This is National Tinnitus Awareness week (9th Feb to 15th Feb). Tinnitus is a common problem suffered by no less than 4.7 million people in the UK. Tinnitus is most often associated with a ringing sound in the ears, but it can take many different forms, which can easily be confused with external noise.
Many people cannot pinpoint a reason or cause for the onset of this problem but many will agree that the noise is made worse by stress or anxiety; some believe that stress is the cause.
I developed tinnitus 5 years ago when a virus attacked my auditory nerve and knocked out most of the hearing in my left ear. It started with a noise which was like dripping water and then became a hissing sound like a water cistern filling up. At times it can almost be like whispering voices.
The British Tinnitus Association states ‘It is now well established that Tinnitus is generated in the brain and not in the ear. Moreover, we have learned from animal studies that tinnitus might be linked to increased spontaneous activity of nerve cells in the brain’.
I am fortunate that my tinnitus has never seriously affected my mood or emotions but studies show that about 50% of tinnitus sufferers are psychologically affected by their condition. The emotional impact of tinnitus can range from simple annoyance and frustration, to anger, anxiety, sleep disturbance and impaired concentration, to more severe conditions like panic, depression and chronic insomnia. Unfortunately there are few medical treatments are available for tinnitus suffers but psychological therapies have helped many people. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is one such therapy. Cognitive Hypnotherapy combines Hypnotherapy, CBT, WordWeaving and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to provide a treatment programme that not only can help to identify the stressors, but also actively works to lessen the stressor and manage, lessen or even eliminate symptoms.
Sufferers can also be taught techniques which they can put into practice themselves. One technique you can try for yourself is the ‘control panel’. Close you eyes and imagine a control panel inside your head. You can decide whether it looks more like a car dashboard or hi-fi controls or something else. Find the volume control and give it a scale of 1-10. Notice the current volume level and then turn it down to an acceptable level.
Once learnt, this type of technique can easily be practiced at home or work and can be effective in combating, controlling or even eliminating the symptoms.
For more information about tinnitus see www.tinnitus.org.uk