Tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing) in the ears is a very common problem. We all have tinnitus it’s just for the most part not noticeable. 10% of the population suffer from ‘noticeable’ tinnitus. Other people may occasionally get temporary tinnitus after loud music, say from a disco or concert.
If you go into a quiet room it is impossible to hear silence; the auditory nerve cells are always busy trying to fill in the silence with something. These nerve cells are located between the brain and the ear. The name for these nerve cells is the eighth nerve. The eighth nerve is a very sensitive part of your body. When damaged or the input to it impaired, it can become over stimulated, which in turn notifies the brain that there is a sound when in fact there is none.
It is vitally important that the patient has been to a doctor and ENT. In most cases tinnitus is benign but in some cases, especially that of pulsate tinnitus (the patient hears beeping in time with their pulse) it needs to be checked in case it is a tumour (although extremely rare).
When someone first gets tinnitus, one of the most common reactions is panic. It’s natural, we all panic if something strange is happening to our body. The lucky few accept the sound over a period or months/years. Others unfortunately have sleepless nights and in a lot of cases end up taking anti-depressants or sleeping pills. One effective means of silencing the tinnitus is via a masker sound, this can give temporary relief and help habituation over the long time. Examples of these are on my web site www.hypnosishealthcare.com
The main treatment is TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy). The treatment involves (in a very simplistic form please look on the web for more information) explaining to the patient what Tinnitus is, counselling and helping them obtaining masking devices that fit around the ear. It isn’t a cure, but helps habituation (getting used to the sound)
My own ideas tested on a group of Tinnitus patients is split into three phases it is very different complete therapy to anything else available.
I begin by the discussing the patients health, well being and how the T affects them, how it started, drugs they are taking and a complete and discussing the realities of hypnotherapy rather than the mystique produced unfortunately be the immoral use of stage hypnotism. Once the patient is happy we go onto the most exciting part of the therapy. It is based in part by research by Dr Herta Flor and her team at the University of Heidelberg's (reported in the new scientist) To sum up patients were trained two hours a day over four weeks, after which they reported on average a 35 per cent reduction in their tinnitus.
These patients were trained by playing exactly the same tone they heard in their head, both in pitch and sound wave and then a contrasting sound. When the sound was played many patients reported the tinnitus sound disappeared throughout the duration of playing and for a small period of time afterwards, the word for this is called Frequency-Matched Residual Inhibition. This works because the subconscious becomes aware of the sound and relearns to block it out or calm down the part of damaged eighth nerve. It isn’t a cure more something to help control and reduce the sound (although a cure for some does happen).
Two hours a day over four weeks is a very long time for anyone. What I was after in hypnosis was to emulate the technique but reduce the training period and increase its effectiveness. The mind is best at learning in small chunks. I emulated the sound heard by the patient on my computer put it on a CD to take home and then with the now taught self hypnosis technique, play the sounds to the patient whilst giving the subconscious instructions to the mind. Now it has a sound context to base it on the mind can learn to filter it out.
Results, are good. Most patients have never been to a hypnotherapist and as such find this non-aggressive technique very simple. At the minimum this therapy helps patients relax after years of tension caused by the tinnitus, once this has been dealt with, controlling the volume of the sound is much easier. It’s a wonderful feeling when a patient does not need to take sleeping pills or anti-depressants anymore (obviously with consultation from a doctor).
This isn't a cure just something that can help.
"I listened to the CD for 15 minutes while in trance. My T level went down to a 2-5. (level 2 means I have to search for it) and stayed like this for approximately 60 minutes. My T gradually went back to a low humdinger over the next couple of hours. I literally walked in through the door, sat down and heard the CD and the level of my T reduced by approx 50%" – Adam
"I find that with the help of Self Hypnosis and the CD combined, this terrible
intermittent high pitch sound gradually reduces. I still take a sleeping pill
to help me fall asleep (I haven’t the full confidence yet) but after
a short while, I awake to my sound again and immediately put on the Earphones
and CD and help is at hand very quickly; it doesn’t seem long before
I fall back asleep" – Sid Schogger
About the author:Member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy
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