- The Noise Can Go Away
- Reduction of Tinnitus by Hypnotherapy
- Waiting For The Noise Reduction
- Tinnitus: My Story
This is the series of articles I wrote exclusively for Hearing Health Magazine about tinnitus. Since writing this article I’ve consulted with thousands of people who suffer from tinnitus. Cataloging their cumulative experience for the past 9 years has caused some changes to be made in therapeutic approach. For current information about tinnitus therapy see: TinnitusTreatmentFAQ
Listening to the noises of tinnitus in the head, for many, is the curse of a lifetime. Many of us have often wondered what great evil we did to bring this upon ourselves. Of course, we know there was nothing that we did, but knowing that seldom helps. What does help? Can anything truly reduce the noise in our heads? The answer is yes. This is the first in a series of three articles that will discuss how tinnitus is most likely heard and how we can quiet the noise.
Tinnitus is noise that often begins in the middle or inner ear at onset. Later the noise becomes thoroughly enmeshed in our nervous system, and long after the stimulus for the noise has gone or healed, the noise remains.
Remember the veterans of wars that once felt great pain in their limbs and due to irreversible infection, had to have those limbs amputated? Many still felt pain in a foot or knee or hand, long after the limb had been removed. The phenomenon is known as phantom limb pain and is very common. The brain was never “told” that the limb had been removed and a persisting loop of information told the brain that the limb still hurt and that something needed to be done!
Long after Van Gogh cut off his ear, the noise continued. Long after many thousands had surgeons cut the VIII nerve (the auditory nerve), the noise of tinnitus persisted. In fact HALF of all patients having the VIII nerve cut still have tinnitus. How could that possibly be if tinnitus is in the ear? The answer of course is that is is only in the ear in about half of patients. In the other half the noise is persisting in the brain.
The brain is also well known as a chemical producing factory. The improper mix of chemicals can cause stress and depression in the individual. The inverse is also true. Coupling the notion of brain chemistry with the fact that approximately 75% of tinnitus sufferers had depression or anxiety before the onset of tinnitus has fascinating ramifications. In theory, if we can successfully treat stress, anxiety, and depression then we should be able to reduce the volume of tinnitus as well if these three things actually pre-dispose tinnitus. In fact, this is the case.
A simple example is that of stress and anxiety directly causing temporomandibiluar joint disorder (TMJD). TMJD quite often is the direct cause of tinnitus for numerous reasons. Once the TMJD is properly treated the tinnitus often reduces or is eliminated. In similar fashion, stress, anxiety and depression often cause an alteration in the brain chemistry, that when ignited with a physical stimulus (ototoxic drugs, a loud noise, TMJ, craniomandibular disorder and so on…), tinnitus onsets.
Stress, depression, panic disorder, and anxiety are like fertilized soil. The farmer planting the crops can be likened to the physical stimulus that causes the tinnitus and makes it stay (grow) when in most people, without the fertile soil, it only lasts a short period of time.
Once the tinnitus is “planted” in the brain of the emotionally hurting individual, it grows and soon plateaus in volume. The brain initially becomes aware of this noise and initially does not like the noise. Later, as the brain becomes accustomed to having the noise around, it feels it is necessary for survival and goes looking for it immediately when the conscious mind notices it is not there. (Have you ever awoken from a nap only to have your tinnitus volume sky rocket? That is your reticular activating system trying to keep you alive!) The brain does not think the tinnitus is “good”, it simply becomes a survival issue and a “sound loop” is created in the neural pathways that keeps the tinnitus there.
Long after the physical causes of tinnitus have healed in your ear, the brain will continue to find the noise. This is what is meant when it is said that tinnitus is psychosomatic in nature. The onset was physical in nature, very real. However, the continuation of the noise is often not necessary. Much like hearing voices and other auditory hallucinations, tinnitus is simply a “replaying” of “tapes” the brain feels are necessary for survival.
The brain is an incredible piece of creation and tends to work remarkably well. Like all sounds, tinnitus is processed and “heard” in the brain. The ear, incredible as it is in it’s own right is a sensory organ that collects information and keeps our balance along with a few other nice benefits. The ear does not hear though. The brain hears. Sound is stored in the brain and can easily be remembered.
Recall the voice of someone you love very much. (If you have been deaf for your entire life follow along anyway as this pertains to everyone!) You were easily able to do that weren’t you? Even if you are profoundly deaf today, you are still able to remember the voice of a relative or friend. The memory of sound is the brain stored. Long after a person becomes deaf, they continue to hear sounds in their dreams. The memory of sound is stored in the brain. When you feel a certain way or have certain important decisions to make you may hear the voice of a parent or friend who is long dead in your head. Some people hear these voices all day long. The brain is working perfectly well. It simply needs a bit of reprogramming!
The implications for those people who listen to tinnitus are profound. The sound is another memory in the brain. Like anything else in the brain, it can be altered through pharmacology or altering states of conscious in natural ways including but not limited to meditation, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, visualization and various other mental “technologies” like neurolinguistic programming. When considering tinnitus as a problem we must subdivide the problem into two areas. First there is the level of the volume of the tinnitus. Second, there is the level of suffering the tinnitus causes. Therefore, we are looking for two solutions. One is to reduce the volume as much possible. The other is to reduce the negative emotional impact we have toward the noises in the head. They are very different things aren’t they? The sound of a baby crying to some is the sound of a child trying to communicate and is looked upon as a sound of joy. To others, the sound of crying is hyperacoustic in nature. It can be the most annoying and frustrating of sounds!
Because tinnitus is a noise that is “heard” in the conscious portion of our brain, we can always alter at least one of the two problems. We can always change our interpretation of the sound we here. In most cases we can reduce the volume of the tinnitus and in some cases eliminate it completely. We can, through various means, which will be discussed in an upcoming issue, move from, “This noise is driving me insane,” to, “This noise is annoying.” That is a VERY big step to make and it is not as simple as saying, “you’ll have to learn to live with it.”
Let us begin with a worst case scenario. An individual has tinnitus which is in no way related to psychosomatic cause. The person was standing next to a fog horn when it went off, had no protection and has had tinnitus from that exact moment on. Another situation along these lines would be someone with a cholosteotoma that is causing the tinnitus. (This cause by the way, is the best reason to get an MRI one needs. Though fairly rare, early treatment is absolutely critical.) This person’s tinnitus is NOT caused by anything that had to do with emotional state of mind.
In situations where a specific physical cause is diagnosable and certain, reducing the volume is a greater challenge, but reducing the emotional impact is far easier BECAUSE the individual was emotionally happy before onset. These people tend to be annoyed by tinnitus but do not tend to “suffer” with tinnitus. They would prefer it be gone, but generally feel no major negative emotions.
For people who have tinnitus that is exacerbated by TMJD, stress, poor posture, and so on, the opposite is normally true. Here it is easier to reduce the volume but more challenging to reduce the emotional impact of the tinnitus! The reason for the inverse relationship is that stress is the root cause of TMJD. Other negative emotions have a direct impact on our immune system and our body in general. By correcting the emotional aspect of ourselves, we will gradually reduce the volume of the tinnitus. Unfortunately, once that negative emotional belief system has interpreted the tinnitus as a curse or a cause for suicide, even reducing the depression and stress often doesn’t alter the interpretation even though volume reduces dramatically.
The positive aspect is that for a person whose tinnitus was born in depression or anxiety, with the physical stimulus, this person is also likely to have significant improvement given time, a good medical plan with an M.D. and many lifestyle changes that will discussed in the next issue of Hearing Health.
Kevin Hogan once had tinnitus that varied from the 60-80 dB level persistently. Through various medications and lifestyle alterations, Kevin normally does not hear any tinnitus and when he does it is in the 10-20 dB level. Hogan is the author of The Tinnitus: Turning Down the Volume.
by Kevin Hogan
WHO SHOULD OWN THIS PROGRAM?
Anyone with tinnitus who would like to reduce the volume of their tinnitus through the use of self-hypnosis CDs, along with other strategies presented in the program.
The Tinnitus Reduction CD Program has helped thousands of individuals reduce the distress associated with tinnitus. In most cases, when individuals utilize the Tinnitus Reduction Program as part of a multi-modality approach to tinnitus reduction they experience long term improvement.
“I had meant to write before as I have had your tapes from July now. They have been wonderful and saved my sanity. My tinnitus is greatly reduced and my Meniere’s under control. I return to your tapes as I find them excellent and I use them every night to go to sleep with. Thank you.” Anne Clarke
Your CD program includes three hours of up to date information about how to reduce the volume and distress of your tinnitus. This portion of the program is updated regularly.
In addition to the reporting you will receive of what is working in the area of medicine, tinnitus retraining therapy, and other modalities, you will receive self hypnosis CD’s specifically designed by Kevin Hogan which assisted him in the elimination of his tinnitus. The first two CD’s in the program are the most up to date information about tinnitus relief you can get. Now, you can utilize the same program as part of a multi-modal effort in reducing your tinnitus volume.
Kevin Hogan is a psychotherapist specializing in hypnosis, who didn’t stop with just one possible way to experience silence. A multimodal approach is the only way to assure your success in reducing your tinnitus volume and the intense emotional distress that comes from the tinnitus. If you are sick of hearing that “nothing can be done” and “you’ll have to learn to live with it,” this is the starting point.
The program includes the brand new revised edition of, Tinnitus: Turning the Volume Down which includes the latest developments in reducing tinnitus and hundreds of citations for further research.
Tinnitus Reduction CD Program and the 260 page book, Tinnitus: Turning Down the Volume
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