How I’m Managing Tinnitus

Rewiring Tinnitus: How I Finally Found Relief From the Ringing in My Ears. By Glenn Schweitzer. CreateSpace, December 2016

A note from Bill: This book review appears here because it fits in with Teresa’s philosophy behind “Suburban Stockade,” which is to discover low-cost ways to make your life better. This applies to your health, and the methods she discovered in Glenn Schweitzer’s book on how she’s managing tinnitus are easy to implement and cost nothing beyond the price of the book.

managing tinnitusI have had tinnitus for years. Mine generally sounds like static on the radio with a faint high-pitched whine. Sometimes I get bees, either a few or, worse, an entire hive full of bees buzzing around aimlessly. Angry bees are the worst. The tinnitus would rise and fall and I didn’t have any idea what to do. Sometimes it would be better, for no reason I could see. Being busy, white noise, background music; sometimes they helped and sometimes they didn’t.

Dr. Google and the internet were no help.

I figured I would have to live with it, suffering every step of the way. Then, I Iaw this book and asked my husband to buy it for me. Unlike most of the snake-oil salesmen on the internet, Mr. Schweitzer didn’t promise my tinnitus would go away, and it hasn’t. He didn’t promise effortless results, and he’s right about that too.

But since reading his book, I’m better. I did not know where tinnitus comes from and now I do. It is harmless, although annoying. It is the operating noise in your inner ear, similar to the whir of a fan in operation. People without tinnitus don’t hear this normal body noise –lucky them! Tinnitus sufferers do get to hear the ears’ built-in operating system.

Mr. Schweitzer discusses the background of tinnitus, tinnitus triggers, keeping records of those triggers, tinnitus as a symptom of your overall health, and most importantly, what to do about it.

There is no cure. But — and this is important — you can habituate yourself to your tinnitus. He does it with meditation. Now, I have meditated in the past. It helps me keep a clearer focus. Unfortunately, as with flossing, I am inconsistent with my meditation. Like exercise and flossing, mediation works best when you do it every day and so often I don’t find the time. Also, my tinnitus got in the way.

So I started meditating again and this time, did something I would have never thought of: I focused on the sound of my tinnitus as Mr. Schweitzer recommends rather than trying to ignore it. That is, I used the tinnitus like an ‘om’ mantra or focusing on my breathing.

I learned a few things right away. My tinnitus is primarily located not in my ear canals, but on the other side of the ear drum. It’s primarily on my right side. It rarely pops up on my left side. I don’t know why but I’m fine with that. Considering how ubiquitous and annoying the buzzing is, it turned out to be surprisingly difficult to focus on it.

The idea behind focusing on the tinnitus during mediation is to habituate yourself to the sound, remove the negative emotions that make it worse, and train yourself not to hear it as much. Mr. Schweitzer suggests that this process will take several weeks to a few months. I agree with that assessment, but within a few days, my tinnitus is better. Not a lot. But a little bit, and I didn’t believe that would ever happen.

I had also never considered tinnitus triggers even though I knew my tinnitus was always worse after I had a poor night’s sleep. I had discovered on my own that aspirin made my tinnitus worse. I hadn’t considered alcohol or caffeine as triggers, along with many prescription medications.

Thanks to this little book, I understand my tinnitus much better. The better I understand it, the better I can cope with it. It was a tremendous relief to discover that what I was hearing, what was sometimes driving me crazy, was just another body noise like my heartbeat.

I can’t live without my heartbeat and I don’t want to live without my ears functioning either. But like my heartbeat, I now have hope that my tinnitus will recede into the background, there but no longer as much of an annoyance.

I am very happy that I saw “Rewiring Tinnitus,” bought it and read it. The meditation process and an understanding of tinnitus triggers might help you too.