Alleviate your tinnitus

20 10 2009


My tinnitus has been particularly bad for the last 2 years and it’s horrible. It’s as if I’m listening to a constant concert with a crap conductor. My audiologist has recommended I try a tinnitus retraining course and I’ve agreed to give it a go. If I get the go-ahead for the cochlear implant, the hole drilled into my head will very likely decrease my tinnitus or even make it disappear completely. But yeah, there is that hole in the head first. So I was very interested to hear about this particular tinnitus alleviation treatment.

A young company called Restored Hearing Ltd, based in Sligo Ireland, had their first major breakthrough with a competition project in sound therapy for tinnitus sufferers in 2009. They developed a therapy for temporary tinnitus sufferers, i.e. concert-goers or those who listen to an mp3 player.

They say “After one minute of our therapy 99% of the candidates that we tested said that their tinnitus was gone. The project received huge attention from tinnitus sufferers and sympathisers alike and we were fortunate enough to receive 2nd prize overall in the competition and to win an award for medical innovation too.”

Restored Hearing say their therapy can also provide some relief from tinnitus for those with hearing impairments. If you wear a hearing aid, they advise you take it out and wear the headphones. It will work – get this – even though you won’t be able to hear it.

This sounds like quack-a-doodle to me. I’m going to try this though, what harm can it do? Tempted? You’ll need €2.50, a pair of headphones, and internet connection to access the customised one-minute therapy session at Restored Hearing. If you fancy trying this therapy, do let us have your feedback. I’m all ears!!

New tinnitus blog

7 02 2009

Do you sometimes wonder how other people manage to cope with their tinnitus?
Could you make small changes that would make your life more bearable?
Could you get more help for your tinnitus on the NHS?

Coping with the debilitating condition of tinnitus could become that bit easier thanks to a new blog from Deafness Research UK.

The blog marks National Tinnitus Week (9th-15th February) and will initially involve three Deafness Research UK supporters talking frankly about how they cope with their tinnitus on a daily basis. Meet Kate, John and Gemma who, contrary to the usual advice of trying not to dwell on the symptoms, are focusing on their tinnitus in order to help others learn from their experiences and cope with tinnitus better.

My tinnitus has improved quite a bit over the last few days. For the last 5 months, it has been much louder in my left ear than it has ever been. It’s been really annoying and makes me feel more tired and stressed. I moved house recently and having said good riddance to an irritating flatmate and his nasty overbearing bully of a mother, who never seemed to stop popping in, emailing and ringing me, I feel much more relaxed in my new home. I actually feel AT home. My tinnitus has unexpectedly improved and I’m really pleased! It’ll never go away though, I’ve had it all my life and it’s just a part of me. So I’ve learned that managing my environment can affect my tinnitus. Useful tip!

Scientists explain the tinnitus and hearing loss link

5 10 2008

Scientists have explained for the first time how hearing loss can lead to tinnitus. Read on …

Music to my ears

14 09 2008

I’m getting pretty fed up. My tinnitus has taken over my life for the last few months. It’s always been there but now it’s constant and it’s loud. Wouldn’t it be lovely just to switch it off. I literally haven’t had a moment’s peace for months!

I know of some tips to reduce tinnitus. My main vice is caffeine so that will go!

# reduce caffeine intake
# reduce nicotine intake
# reduce stress
# meditate
# get more sleep

We may see treatments in the next 5-10 years for tinnitus. There are some now in clinical trials in humans that have worked in mice to suppress tinnitus, based on NMDA antagonists introduced into the cochlear fluids.

Let’s be deaf for 5 minutes

26 05 2008

Last week, someone asked me ‘What’s it like to be deaf’? I find this a very difficult question to answer. I said it’s like permanently having a very bad cold, and hearing constant noises in the ears after spending too much time in a noisy nightclub. It’s very difficult to explain to hearing people what it is like to live with imperfect hearing.

Caroline of Irish Deaf Kids brought this simulator to my attention. It’s a great tool for raising awareness of deafness, blindness, dyslexia and autism. I worked my way through the hearing impairment simulator. You’ll need Shockwave for the simulators to work, and don’t forget to switch on your computer loudspeakers.

The main problem hearing loss creates is an inability to cope with background noise. I can’t screen out unwanted sounds or filter voices so I can’t concentrate on one person speaking, I’m hearing all the background sounds as well. Check out this demonstration of background sounds – click on the clock, the pencil, the computer and the printer.

Demonstration : Annoying background sounds in the office

Who would believe that a deaf person can hear all these sounds? Yes, we can! Add on top of that, trying to listen to a person’s voice. So, a learning point here: always try to minimise background sounds – move to a quiet room. This is easy enough to manage in a working environment, but try doing this in a social context – when you’re out on a date and trying to listen to the other person ….. (can’t think of anywhere quiet, can you?!). I was surprised to learn that people with autism have this problem too.

Demonstration : Trying to listen to someone against background sound

I have a complete hearing loss in the high frequencies. This means I can hear the vowels in speech but I can’t understand speech, as I’m missing the consonants (high frequency sounds), therefore I need to lipread. Your voice sounds just like baby talk. This also means I can’t understand the TV or listen on the phone.

Demonstration : High frequency hearing loss

The next demonstration is of low frequency hearing loss. I also have a low frequency hearing loss, although I do have some residual hearing in the low frequencies. This demo has 4 buttons – I thought 2 of them weren’t working (high frequency, low frequency) as I couldn’t hear anything at all – a perfect demonstration!

Lipreading is really very tiring but it’s a necessary evil. There are many factors affecting my ability to lipread someone, and this is something that is often controllable by the deaf person. Being very tired will mean lipreading is much harder as I’m not alert enough to sustain the high level of concentration required.

Relying solely on my eyes means I have one channel of incoming information rather than two (eyes and ears). This makes learning and taking in information much more difficult and time-consuming. I find I learn much better at my own pace and with lots of printed material to take away with me. Obviously, that means I need more time to revise and reflect on this information. It’s also harder to remember material that is received in a visual way and not in an auditory way as well.

Demonstration : Taking in information in an educational setting

And remember, there’s always that pesky problem of distracting background sounds, and tinnitus which is like having a permanent headache, except you hear it. Mine is luckily fairly quiet so I can ignore it, but gets louder when I’m tired or stressed. Tinnitus is often one of the most upsetting side-effects of hearing loss as it can’t be cured, it can only be managed. I find the management tactics that help the most are being relaxed, having other noise in the background such as a very low TV, and concentrating on other things instead of worrying about the tinnitus.

Demonstration : Tinnitus
(thanks to the British Tinnitus Association)

I also have musical hallucinations and loudness recruitment where some sounds are too loud for me. This is because hearing aids amplify a range of sounds around the frequencies used in speech. In order to amplify speech, environmental sounds are made louder as well. So it’s actually quite a noisy old world out there!

Tinnitus sounds like …

11 01 2008


Play this to your family and friends to raise awareness and increase understanding. (You might even get some sympathy!)

You can obtain this sound file on CD from the British Tinnitus Association. They also supply white / pink / brown / green / purple noise recordings on request.


0800 018 0527 free of charge – from within the UK only
0845 4500 321 local rate – from within the UK only
0114 250 9922 national rate within the UK
+44 (0)114 250 9922 outside the UK


0114 258 5694 from within the UK
+44 (0)114 258 5694 outside the UK


0114 258 2279 from within the UK
+44 (0)114 258 2279 outside the UK

Write to:

The British Tinnitus Association
Ground Floor, Unit 5
Acorn Business Park, Woodseats Close
Sheffield, S8 0TB


Weird tinnitus

9 01 2008

I’ve had a cold since Saturday (5 days now) and the lack of sleep and proper nutrition is starting to show. In a weird way.

I was kept awake all last night by the worst tinnitus I have ever experienced. I had a very loud aircraft engine drone from somewhere deep inside my brain. If that wasn’t bad enough, I could hear a drunken choir in my right ear as well, the singers not quite keeping up with each other. I recognised the melody….. Away in a Manger. Arrrggggghh.

Is there any particular reason why the brain picks out such stupid noises to torment me? Today, the choir has disappeared but the engine drones on.

Hopefully, tomorrow is a new (and quiet) day.

The screaming in my ears won’t stop

28 08 2007

I can’t shut down the noises inside my ears. I have been listening to non-stop roaring for the last 5 hours. But hey, it hasn’t bothered me too much. I know it will be gone by the morning.

What causes tinnitus? How can you stop it? Does it ever go away permanently?

Tinnitus is still not fully understood. There is no cure. Tinnitus is perception of sound when there is no apparent source of sound. It can be humming, whistling, ringing, buzzing, even music. It can come and go or be persistent. It can be high pitched, medium pitched, or low pitched, or a mixture of all three, or of more than one sound.

Over 5 million people in the UK suffer from tinnitus. It is thought to be caused by defective hearing – it’s not an illness or disease. Anyone can get tinnitus, not just old people, and it’s common after excessive exposure to loud noise. I was exposed to constant loud noise for the first few months of my life and as a result I lost most of my hearing. I have suffered tinnitus all of my life. As a child, it was so bad that I would bang my head against a wall to try to get rid of it. I had my head x-rayed numerous times to see if there was any physical cause – they didn’t find anything. Well, they *did* find my brain. As an adult, I have learned to cope with tinnitus and to largely ignore it. I find it gets worse if I am very tired or stressed, either I notice it more or it suddenly hits me at full blast (like today).

Common medical advice is to find a way to relax, to help the tinnitus become less noticeable. I find a good way of dealing with it, when it becomes intolerable, is to take some aspirin and have a nap. When I wake up, it has always gone. I think my best coping strategy is my mindset – I don’t let it stress me when it hits, I just roll with it – “oh yes, it’s back again, I wonder what tune the monster will try to play today!”

I know a lot of people who find tinnitus extremely difficult to cope with, it disturbs sleep, ruins concentration, destroys peace of mind, and even wrecks marriages.

If you have got tinnitus, what options are there?

  • GP – see your GP as they can refer you to a specialist
  • sound generator – this attempts to mask the tinnitus by playing sounds to distract from the tinnitus
  • holistic therapies – these treat the whole body, not just the part, and try to treat the cause of the problem
  • drugs – see you GP if you think any drugs you are taking may be causing tinnitus
  • relaxation – find a relaxing activity or exercise which you enjoy
  • tinnitus retraining therapy – contact the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre
  • sources of help – contact the British Tinnitus Association
  • So, what can you do to beat the tinnitus into submission?

  • Try to do more activities you enjoy, which take your mind off the tinnitus
  • Have some low-level noise in the background such as a radio or TV. I always have my TV on.
  • Try visual or aural games with the tinnitus, e.g. my tinnitus sometimes sounds like an orchestra, and I try to make it ‘play a tune’. This makes the tinnitus less stressful.
  • Try some relaxation every day – a bubble bath, massage, or relaxation exercises
  • Is something stressing you or worrying you? Try to sort this out and your tinnitus may recede.
  • Don’t WORRY about the tinnitus. Just live your life. Go out and enjoy it! Don’t give your tinnitus any attention.
  • There is hope. Action for Tinnitus Research are actively researching improved understanding and treatment of tinnitus. They also produce an email newsletter and booklets.

    I’ve managed to control the beast….. have you managed to control yours?