Therapies to Help with Tinnitus
A number of different types of therapies are available to help manage the symptoms of Tinnitus. Choosing the right one for you is important. Here are some key examples of the types of therapies available:
Tinnitus re-training therapy – Tinnitus-retraining therapy is a therapeutic approach which effectively retrains the way your brain responds to tinnitus. This works by redirecting the brains attention from the tinnitus signal, the sufferer becoming habituated to the sounds of Tinnitus and gradually begins able to tune them out. Tinnitus re-training combines periods of listening to low levels of specially created sounds with counselling sessions. The counselling aims to increase your awareness and understanding of tinnitus and to help you to deal with the negative feelings that are associated with it. Over time, through habituation and counselling, your awareness of different sounds is reduced and you will only notice your tinnitus when you specifically focus on it. Tinnitus retraining may take several months or even years.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – CBT is a combination of both cognitive therapy (which essentially examines unwanted thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs) and behavioural therapy which focuses on your behaviour in response to those thoughts. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts affect the way you behave and it therefore works by teaching you coping techniques to deal with any negative feelings. Through relaxation and cognitive restructuring of thoughts, CBT can change the way you think and feel about your tinnitus which can in turn help to alleviate the symptoms.
Complementary therapy – Complementary therapies that promote relaxation and a sense of wellbeing may be useful in relieving the discomfort and stress that tinnitus may cause. Therapies include yoga, meditation, reflexology, acupuncture and massage. Ask your GP for advice on these therapies. He or she may be able to recommend a qualified practitioner.
Hypnosis – Hypnosis and hypnotherapy is considered by many to be a very effective treatment for alleviating the symptoms of tinnitus – particularly if stress is exacerbating the symptoms. This works be seeking to remove the emotional reaction to the Tinnitus sounds and make the person feel relaxed instead which reduces the stress effect which has the knock-on-effect of reducing the symptoms of tinnitus. This can be practised at home using pre-recorded material.
Relaxation techniques – breathing and muscle relaxation techniques such as those taught the Tinnitus Clinic are found to be very beneficial to tinnitus sufferers.
Counselling – Living with tinnitus can be frustrating and distressing for some people. Part of the issue is the perceived lack of control the person feels they have over the symptoms. Having a greater understanding of Tinnitus and being able to talk about it helps people manage to their symptoms. Places such as the Tinnitus Clinic provide information and advice on the causes and treatments for Tinnitus. They also include counselling on behavioural management strategies and dealing with your emotions as well as practical advice on diet and exercise.
Sleep counselling/ Sleep Therapy – As tinnitus becomes more noticeable in a quiet environment, it may affect your sleep patterns. This can be through either preventing you from falling asleep in the first place, or repeatedly waking you up. If you are anxious about your tinnitus, this can make the symptoms worse as the pattern of negative thoughts and elevated stress levels can make the tinnitus seem more noticeable and intrusive. Sleep therapy involves reflecting on your beliefs about sleep and evaluating those negative automatic thoughts about sleep and tinnitus. The counselling process aims to change attitudes to tinnitus, and ultimately improve your sleep quality.
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