TINNITUS AND HEARING AIDS: WHAT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT

As a Meniere’s Disease patient I have real experience with horrible tinnitus and vertigo.  Having my Eargo Hearing Aids help reduce tinnitus has been a godsend. The article below is very useful for anyone experiencing Tinnitus. And, I highly recommend this innovative hearing aid, I personally use the EARGO Neo HiFi, and this is my third pair. The EARGO Neo Hifi is the best yet and even had customization options for me!

 

When someone notices a ringing in their ears, they typically search online for answers or go to their primary doctor for an evaluation. They will soon discover that they have tinnitus.

A Google search for “ringing in the ears” will lead to an article from Mayo Clinic. The article does a good job in listing the common causes and risk factors, but fails to discuss treatment or management options. Unfortunately, there is a lack of education about tinnitus among most doctors in the healthcare industry.

No one talks about evidence-based methods to manage tinnitus. Primary care doctors are notorious for telling patients “you’ll just have to live with it” and failing to explain “how” to live with it.

In this article, you will learn the basic neuroscience of tinnitus, the role of hearing aids for tinnitus, and practical tips for tinnitus relief that no one is talking about. You’ll find the following video quite helpful.

Can You Train Your Brain To Ignore Tinnitus?

From my years of working as an audiologist, one of the biggest misunderstandings I see every day is when someone comes into my clinic and describes that they have tinnitus. They commonly asked me, “What’s wrong with my ears? Do I have something going on with my ears?”

I have to explain that the source of tinnitus is not the ears. The origin of the sound comes from the brain. Tinnitus is not only an auditory phenomenon. If the tinnitus was just an arbitrary sound, then it would not cause much of a problem.

Tinnitus gets feedback from the emotional centers of the brain. It also gets feedback from the nervous system of the body. If you feel stressed or anxious, the body sends messages to the brain to stay in the fight-or-flight state. In the activated fight-or-flight state, the body is on high alert and categorizes tinnitus as a potential threat. Typically, this is how tinnitus can get louder, also referred to as a tinnitus spike.

If you were not aware of this happening in your body, then you would likely react negatively to your tinnitus getting worse. This reaction creates a vicious cycle of negative reactions and tinnitus. Fortunately, individuals who have tinnitus may be able to train their brain to react less to tinnitus. This is something that happens over time through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.

Learning how to control your reaction to tinnitus is the most important part of therapy. Sound therapy is another essential strategy to manage tinnitus, especially in the early onset of loud tinnitus.

Can A Hearing Aid Reduce Tinnitus?

Sound therapy for tinnitus includes hearing aids, soft background music, different types of white noise, or nature sounds. In a quiet place, it is natural to hyper-focus on the tinnitus signal. Using sound helps by lowering the perceived tinnitus volume and distracting the mind.

Hearing aids are an important tool for tinnitus relief, and usually the most sustainable way to reduce tinnitus during the day. Some hearing aids have features designed specifically for tinnitus. That includes playing relaxing nature sounds through the devices. This is commonly done via Bluetooth streaming on most hearing aids.

One of the most underrated benefits of hearing aids for tinnitus is called amplification. This simply means that hearing aids increase the volume of any sounds around you. The speech and environmental noise are amplified.

The most commonly cited treatment for tinnitus is hearing aids. Hearing aids do not cure the noise, but may reduce the volume of tinnitus while wearing the devices. Eargo hearing aids offer amplification through discreet in-ear devices, with telecare support by licensed hearing professionals.

Can Tinnitus Be Caused By Stress?

The most common causes of tinnitus are hearing loss, ear injury, or as a side effect of medication. Tinnitus and hearing loss are known to be related; however few people know about the relationship between stress and tinnitus.

Stress can exacerbate tinnitus. I have personally worked with patients who did not report tinnitus for most of their lives until it became noticeable after an extended period of emotional stress. Increased levels of stress and anxiety may indirectly make tinnitus louder.

Stress-induced tinnitus will benefit from therapies aimed at reducing stress, anxiety, and healthy sleep habits. Unfortunately, it is not possible to directly turn down the volume of tinnitus. The only proven way to improve tinnitus is through indirect pathways.

Practical Tips To Manage Tinnitus

Focus on reducing any stress and anxiety. Don’t watch TV late in the evening. Eat healthy. Exercise during the day. Learn meditation, tai chi, or yoga. Seek help from respected tinnitus groups. Work with a therapist.

When your body is calm and your mind feels safe, you are likely to better manage your tinnitus. Once that happens, the loud sound of tinnitus may get softer, too.

A comprehensive approach to managing tinnitus will focus on the whole person. This includes psychology, the nervous system, and sound therapy. If you purchase a set of Eargo hearing aids and find that you need additional help managing your tinnitus, please consider reaching out for a personal telecare consultation with me. The initial call is no charge if you mention Eargo.

To learn what may help you manage your tinnitus, please download a free 10-page e-book, The Ultimate Guide To Tinnitus Relief, courtesy of Pure Tinnitus.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist and tinnitus expert. Dr. Thompson is the founder of PureTinnitus.com. He decided to specialize in tinnitus management because of his interests in mindfulness, music and psychology. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides Tinnitus Retraining Therapy online. He hosts a YouTube channel, podcast, and tinnitus group coaching program to help individuals with tinnitus.

(This article first appeared on the EARGO website.)

Back to Normal?

This remote thing…

I’ve been working remotely since 1996, and even I’m tired of the pandemic. I think I’ve weathered it much more easily than some because I’m very much a homebody anyway. But I think I’m most tired of meetings. I’ve had more online meetings in the last year than I ever had since I started my career as a virtual assistant. Being on camera so much is very stressful, it makes me sorry I ever heard of zoom.

I’m also tired of pain. Because of the pandemic, the doctor I had at Johns Hopkins hasn’t been able to get the procedure I need in his new clinic in NYC. I keep reaching out and being told not yet. Meanwhile, I am still in pain. Sharp and brutal.

I’m fully vaccinated now, with some pretty rough reactions to both of the Pfizer shots. But, now they are saying a booster might be needed in a year. All I can say to that is yuck.

As a fully vaccinated person, what can we do?  We still have to wear masks, we still can’t go to large gatherings.  So, I’m working on painting watercolors, my herbal studies, and consultations, learning to carve wood via CNC, photography… And I can’t wait until it’s warmer so I can work from the treehouse office.

I’m just down today. Thanks for listening.

 

Chronic Pain in the US

An estimated 50 MILLION people live with chronic pain. IN THE UNITED STATES

Let that sink in for a moment.

The CDC says that there are 128 overdose deaths in the united states due to opioids. But they put heroin in with prescription opioids and count that as part of the ‘epidemic’.

I don’t know about you but I don’t use heroin to treat my pain. I’m not making light of the situation, those who use heroin are risking their lives every time. It’s a horrible addiction from what I’ve read. But let’s bring in some common sense. Most (not all) heroin users CHOSE to use heroin. I didn’t choose to have chronic pain – specifically a nerve bundle (or several) trapped in my abdominal wall that causes horrific pain.

Pain that I am no longer allowed to be treated for with opioids. Regardless of the fact that I was not / am not addicted. Regardless of the fact that I followed every rule, and requirement. Regardless of the fact that I tried the other methods of pain relief they put me on with disasterous results.

The chronic pain community has been marginalized and it is not right. Are we not entitled to caring, competent care? Aren’t we allowed to have relief from pain that works with minimal side effects?

Many of us suffer from other chronic/incurable conditions in addition to chronic pain. Our bodies have a very small threshold for changes in our prescriptions. In my case, any changes cause my Meniere’s disease symptoms to flare dramatically. If a medication says it may cause dizziness – it will cause violent vertigo in my case, and I can’t afford to be bedridden for weeks. The doctors at the pain clinic told me I’d eventually get used to the side effects.

What part of competent and compassionate care is that??? I miss the days when my doctor and I discussed treatment options and decided on a best course of action. I hate that someone stepped into my appointments without my permission and denied my care.

I am currently not using any prescription medications for pain – although, frankly – I wish I was. For the last couple of years, I have pain relief from a combination of herbs which I brew into a tea, or powder into capsules. This, plus over-the-counter Tylenol and ibuprofen do help with the constant pain. But nothing helps with the breakout stabbing, throbbing, making me scream pain. when I get that, which is frequent, I have no stronger options for relief.

Because I’m not allowed.

Admiration

I would like to say something about grace. Specifically, grace under fire.  Specifically, Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s behavior during the senate judiciary committee confirmation hearings. 

I have been listening and watching for the last two days. She has been asked hundreds of times to opine, affirm, or deny a position she may or may not have on cases that are currently, or may be in the future before the Supreme court. She is ethical to the highest degree in that she will not do that.  What galls me is that not one of the democrats in the committee is listening to her answers. They ask her basically the same thing over and over and over. Its insulting how they are trying to trap her. She has been talked over, her integrity questioned, her beliefs questioned, and so on. And through it all, she is respectable, congenial, attentive, direct and succinct.

I do not care if you are a democrat or a republican, (notice I do not believe either of those should be capitalized!!!), but I think you have to admire her graceful and respectful answers anyway. She is a smart, articulate, highly intelligent, and strong woman who I admire greatly. And I did not even know her before these proceedings.

I am not trying to start a war with my comments, and I still really do not care which ‘side’ you are on. I am only commenting about one individual and her incredible grace under fire.

I am proud to be a woman today. 😊

Updates

It has been such a very long time since I blogged here. I know, I say this every time I haven’t written in the blog for a while. I am keeping up with my journal though, which was a major goal of mine this year. Let’s bring you up to speed:

First, and most important, Michael was diagnosed with cancer in February and had surgery to remove the cancer on March 16th at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He spent several days in hospital. It was a painful procedure, and difficult recovery but he’s cancer free now at six months. The day of his surgery the city of Baltimore shut down due to the virus and overnight the streets were empty. So when I got back to the hotel after being with Michael during the day, my sister and I would walk the empty streets and gaze in the closed windows of Fells Point. It was surreal but the lack of hustle and bustle was a balm to my nerves. I am forever grateful for the extraordinary care given to Michael and the help and support given to me during that time.

For a very long time I had been wearing a patch over my left eye, like a pirate – yes, because my eye had turned inward so much I couldn’t walk without running into things, falling down stairs, tripping over everything, and so on. I was scheduled for eye realignment surgery in April but the Pandemic hit so it was cancelled until the end of August. I had to say it was/is a difficult recovery. I don’t know why I thought this but I just assumed its only my eye, I’ll Be back up and running very quickly. Ummm, nope… Brutal headaches, dizziness if I move my head too quickly from side to side, not to meantion that I have feel more exhausted than I thought possible. This also coincided with an extra busy time in my virtual assisting practice, which made me want to keep working but having to push myself to take breaks. Michael said he heard my recovery could take up to a year… I swear I didn’t hear that, but its probably selective memory. At any rate it needed to be done. Again, the surgery was at Johns Hopkins and I received exemplary care – but it was a bit scary because Michael wasn’t allowed in.

My chronic pain is still with me. My doctor – the one that does the MRI guided needle placement procedures (In my abdomen) has left Johns Hopkins, and I couldn’t find another – and honestly, I don’t want to start from scratch. He’s gone to a university in NYC and I’m in touch with him. I’m praying the clinic he is starting will be up and running at some point, after it was delayed due to the pandemic. So, every few weeks I check in and see what’s up. Meanwhile, I’m in pain, some days in near screaming agony, with only Tylenol, ibuprofen, and my pain tea. Thank God for my pan tea. Because, of course, if you’re a chronic pain patient, you are apparently an addict and don’t deserve to be treated with medicine that works.

That’s where we are. We’re working to build our studio up (www.hilltop-arts.com) and my photography business (www.hilltop.photos) and my virtual assisting business is keeping me extremely busy. But all of it helps to keep me distracted from what isn’t feeling good on my body. 🙂 I promise I will try to be better about this blog!

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