Hearing loss and tinnitus are both widespread in El Paso, affecting about 20 percent of the population. On their own, each presents unique obstacles to a person’s quality of life; when you suffer from both, the challenges are even greater. Coping strategies can help you manage your symptoms to make them less bothersome.
Daily Challenges of Hearing Problems
You might think if you suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus won’t be a problem because you won’t hear it anyway! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. A persistent ringing in the ears proves annoying even when you have a hearing impairment.
The degree of tinnitus varies from person to person and no two cases are alike. Some find it an occasional nuisance, while for others, it’s a full-fledged distraction. Regardless of the degree to which you experience tinnitus, it’s likely to have some effect on your daily life. People with tinnitus in El Paso may have trouble falling or staying asleep at night; stress and anxiety are common, and problems with memory and concentration might occur.
There is no cure for tinnitus, but coping strategies can help reduce its effect on your daily life. Because many of those solutions rely on sound therapy, people with hearing loss won’t find them as effective.
Having both is like a one-two punch. But your audiologist in El Paso does have some tips for individuals with hearing loss and tinnitus. They include:
- See a hearing specialist. The most important step in your treatment is to make an appointment with an El Paso audiologist. A hearing professional will try to figure out what is causing your tinnitus (there’s a wide range of possibilities) and may be able to find a solution to reduce the ringing in your ears, whether that involves removing built-up earwax or changing your prescription medication. Your audiologist will also give you a hearing test to measure the type and degree of your impairment. If hearing aids are the solution, you will be fit with a pair that targets the frequencies affected by your loss.
- Wear hearing aids. The majority of people with hearing loss in El Paso will benefit from hearing aids. They serve a dual purpose of helping you hear better by amplifying volume and restoring your lost frequency range and are useful in managing tinnitus. Many of today’s hearing aids include built-in tinnitus masking features such as white noise, music or nature sounds; these help your brain to habituate to the ringing in your ears by lowering the perceived volume. Even without those features, turning up the volume on your hearing aids can help drown out your tinnitus. And with better hearing, it might not be as noticeable anyway.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Stress is bad for the body and can exacerbate your tinnitus symptoms. Learning to relax can make a world of difference, reducing anxiety and making the ringing in your ears less obvious. Techniques such as a hot bath, trigger point massage and progressive muscle relaxation exercises (tense and relax different muscle groups for 10-20 seconds at a time, beginning with your toes and working your way up to your head). The 4-7-8 breathing exercise also proves effective for many. It involves the following:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
- Close your mouth, inhale through your nose and count to four.
- Hold your breath and count to seven.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound and counting to eight.
- Repeat the cycle three more times.
- Remove tinnitus triggers. Tinnitus often varies in intensity and duration; these spikes can catch you off guard, making it harder to adjust to tinnitus. Try keeping a journal and tracking when your tinnitus is worse – you might find that triggers such as diet, lifestyle and environment play a role. If you can identify trends, you should be able to remove those triggers – or at least be better prepared for them.
For additional tips on coping with hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a visit with an audiologist in El Paso.