There’s no hiding away from it - tinnitus is quite annoying and as things stand there are no known ways to completely eradicate it. Especially at first, it can bring on fear, anxiety and stress - but it gets better, and there are plenty of ways to control and even embrace it.
My name is Will, I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve had persistent tinnitus for the past four years. (Read more about my experience with being diagnosed here). I was terrified at first, but I quickly learnt to live with it. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination - but below are 10 ways which have helped me:
Understand you are not alone
There are as many as 10-25% of adults who suffer from tinnitus - most are older than 65, but it’s still reported in 10% of adults aged 18 to 44. Of course this isn’t something to celebrate, but it does mean it’s not uncommon and you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much because you have it.
The vast majority are able to continue their lives without any real impact - and there’s no reason you can’t as well.
Tell people you have it and discuss your experiences
I tend not to introduce myself, or start conversations with ‘I have tinnitus’ but when it has come up with various people - some I’ve recently met and others I’ve known for a long time - I’ve been warmed by how people have reacted.
Some share their own experiences with it (which feeds into the above point) and enables you to have a conversation and share techniques to combat it. Many are inquisitive and I find it helpful to talk about it and hopefully help them avoid it themselves.
But ultimately everyone is incredibly supportive, which gives me hope more investment and education around tinnitus may soon happen leading to some solutions and greater preventions.
Take ownership of the sound
As things stand this sound - whether it’s a buzz, hiss, wave or whatever - it is going to stay with you. So rather than let it control you - find a way you can control it.
You can lie there with your head on the pillow, finding it excruciatingly annoying - or you can think of a way to have the sound as a positive. I’m fairly sure my tinnitus happened because of overexposure at gigs and clubs - so when it’s especially strong in my head I think back on all those memories of dancing until early hours, with my friends and having a great time.
Take inspiration from Peter Pan and the Lost Boys - and think happy thoughts. Which leads to point four. . .
Think of something else
Much easier said than done - but I never notice my tinnitus when I have my head down in something else. Of course during the day there are other noises which drown it out - but even late at night, if I’m concentrating or thinking about other things the noise disappears.
Try to relax
It can be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy as my tinnitus gets louder when I’m anxious or stressed - and when my tinnitus is bad it increases my anxiety and stress levels.
So taking the time to stop, pause, take deep breaths and even meditate to lower my heart rate makes all the difference
When I’m tired my tinnitus is at its worst. So like all articles you read with tips and techniques to improve any condition - regular, good night’s sleep can’t be beaten. There is of course the slight contradiction that tinnitus does affect sleep - but if you give yourself enough hours by keeping to a good bedtime you’re giving yourself the best chance of success.
Take cold and flu medicine if you feel a bit under the weather
Of course, don’t exceed the recommended amount or take it unnecessarily - but I’ve found when I do have a cold or am a bit blocked up it can affect my tinnitus. Presumably because ears, nose and throat are all connected?
Trying to mitigate this and getting better as soon as possible will help.
Understand the effects of alcohol
Similar to the point on sleep - alcohol certainly has an effect on tinnitus. It’s probably partly the alcohol itself, as well as the environments it’s consumed in - but if your tinnitus really is an issue, reducing your alcohol intake will help.
Reduce the volume in your headphones
It doesn’t need to be as loud as possible to enjoy it. Phone health apps now measure this - so take a look at your exposure, read the detail, and understand whether you’re unnecessarily putting your ears under greater strain.
Invest in protection
One I wish I had considered a long time ago - if you’re in situations where there’s loud noise (which is inevitable for almost everyone), it’s really worth having earplugs. They reduce the noise, but not your enjoyment - so a bit of a no brainer.
Buy some with a case which connects to your keys so you always carry them with you and if your night unexpectedly turns from a couple of drinks to live music, you can pop them in and feel good the following day - and years - afterwards.
To anyone who reads this - I hope you’ve found it helpful, calmed any fears and if you do have tinnitus, given you some ideas on how to manage it. I have absolutely no qualifications on this subject, beyond my personal experience, so take the points with a pinch of salt.
They do all work to varying degrees for me - so hopefully they can for someone else as well.
Will works in content marketing, specialising in audio and social media and has suffered from persistent tinnitus since 2019. Based in London, UK he regularly attends live music, and clubs while also playing rugby - all of which could have contributed to the problem.