Exploring Natural Remedies and Therapies for Alleviating Tinnitus Symptoms
Tinnitus—that phantom ringing or buzzing sensation that can be so distressing—affects between 12% and 14% of adults and in some cases, it is so severe that adults seek medication to deal with it. Despite the fact that there are no FDA-approved medications to treat this condition, studies have been conducted showing that for some people, treatment with low doses of antianxiety drugs such as Valium can reduce symptoms. Another treatment that has been successful for some is Alprazolam, used alongside a steroid placed in the middle ear. Undeniably, these medications can offer a level of relief, but they’re not without their drawbacks. They often carry with them a luggage-full of side effects and aren’t always suitable for the long haul. But here’s the silver lining – nature’s own bank of remedies and therapies. Potentially beneficial without the side-effect baggage, they offer sparks of optimism amidst the often overwhelming realm of health management.
As reported by Harvard academics, recent research shows that sound therapy can suppress tinnitus effectively in some people. Two common types of sound therapy are masking and habituation. Through masking, listeners are exposed to other sounds (such as white noise and nature sounds) to mask the uncomfortable ringing that tinnitus produces. Habituation, meanwhile, aims to train the brain to adapt to tinnitus. Under this method, you are encouraged to listen to noise similar to your tinnitus sound for extended periods. Eventually, your brain ignores this sound, along with the original tinnitus sound. The process is a bit similar to getting used to glasses. A third type of sound therapy aims at strengthening your hearing and providing relief from tinnitus by stimulating the cells inside the ear. The AudioCardio app, for instance, is like physical therapy for your hearing, and around 70% of those who have used this method have reported positive changes to their hearing or tinnitus.
In some cases, tinnitus can be exacerbated by musculoskeletal factors such as tooth grinding, neck tension, and jaw clenching. By receiving massage therapy around the jaw joint, along the jawbone close to the teeth, and along any area of the face or neck where pain or tightness are felt, people can obtain relief from tinnitus as well as tension. Massage can also help in another way: by reducing stress and soothing the nervous system.
Natural Stress Relief
One 2023 study review shows that stress and continual exposure to loud noises are linked to tinnitus. The stress response can be weaker or delayed in those with tinnitus, and stress can affect certain parts of the ear. One 2014 study revealed that one-quarter of people find that tinnitus severity is worse with chronic stress. As such, it is important to embrace a healthy lifestyle that can lower stress. Exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep can all boost your resilience. Other powerful approaches are yoga, mindfulness meditation, and time spent in nature. Studies have shown that all these activities can nip stress in the bud in a powerful way. Aromatherapy can also enhance your wellbeing. Studies have found that essential oils like lavender and chamomile can lower stress levels. To make the most of this therapy, you can apply safe-for-skin essential oils directly or with the use of a carrier oil, or diffuse your chosen oils with the help of a home diffuser.
For some people, reframing negative thoughts and emotions into more positive ones by adopting the teachings of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. The aim of CBT is to take these thoughts and emotions and counter them with evidence showing that things may not be as bad as they seem. By realizing that we have many biases and “cognitive distortions” that often lead us to false conclusions about ourselves, we can achieve happiness and keep our minds on our goals instead of on past regrets or worries about the future.
Treating Health Conditions
Depression, anxiety, and sleep issues can all make tinnitus worse. Therefore, those who are battling these conditions alongside tinnitus may benefit from talk therapy or other types of therapies. Sleep issues such as apnea, for instance, can be easily diagnosed and treated, providing instant relief for someone who may have been waking up various times during the night and waking up feeling exhausted. Depression and anxiety, meanwhile, can be treated with a host of “gold standard” therapies, ranging from CBT to DBT and ACT. The latter two are considered branches of CBT, but they focus more on mindful acceptance of difficult thoughts and emotions, instead of on reframing.
Tinnitus can make it very difficult to enjoy life in the present moment. Fortunately, there are many approaches, and finding the one that works best for you may take a bit of experimentation. As a whole, aim to reduce stress, deal with any concurrent conditions, and opt for gentle approaches like massage before considering embarking on the medical route.