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10 Practical Tips for Tinnitus

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

By Chelle Wyatt

Tinnitus is on my mind today and that’s because I’m off the grid, in the middle of nowhere at my parents house. How quiet is it out here? Many years ago after they finished building their house I came to visit. We were on the porch, everyone talking and I kept hearing a noise. It was indescribable and it drove me nuts not knowing what it was. I stopped the conversation finally to ask “What is that?” And of course everything sounded normal to them so it took a bit to pin down the noise I wanted. “There! That noise,” I yelled when I heard it again. My mom said, “You mean hummingbirds?” I was aghast. I could not believe how loud they were. At home I couldn’t hear them due to traffic or city noise so I guess I forgot what they sounded like.  
Today it’s early February so isn’t porch time yet. My parents aren’t listening to the radio as they normally would avoiding today’s political environment. None of us watch TV much either so it’s quiet in the house too. I hear my tinnitus all too well. My tinnitus sounds like cicadas, crickets and has a high pitched squeal 24 hours a day , 7 days a week. Luckily I habituated years ago so it’s not driving me crazy but it is noticeable.  


Memories of tinnitus are drifting in and out. I remember when tinnitus struck back in 1987 and I was told by the ENT to go home and learn to live with it. He gave me no other suggestions nor information. I couldn’t sleep and I was a zombie during for days at school. Every night I laid awake hating the sudden invasion and wished I could just die. Only with much determination did I make it through that time period and was able to push tinnitus to the side.

I didn’t think too much about my tinnitus for many years, it was there but in the background only. Then working as a hard of hearing assistant, I was asked to edit a tinnitus presentation into a class. I spent weeks organizing the information and researching tinnitus on the internet. I hadn’t heard my tinnitus so well in years! I was so happy when I finished the project.

Once or twice a year I teach the class and it always throws me back to my early days when I suffered from it as I listen to others tell their story. At least there’s more information available today thanks to the internet than what I had in 1987. It’s wonderful of the state of Utah to offer this class to help others. Together we talk about it and I always hope I helped them at least a little bit. Today I thought I’d write up a list of things to help other people as well.


Tinnitus is most vicious at night because the world is quieter. All we want is to sleep and it seems impossible with all that racket in our head. We lay there awake..thinking about it, hating it, crying or pissed off. It’s at the forefront of our thinking and it’s evil.  

Here’s some things you can do to help you sleep. The trick is to take your mind away from your tinnitus and place it elsewhere. If you find yourself focussing on your tinnitus, take the focus away to something else.

1)  Soft noise. Turn on the fan. Get a fish tank that bubbles. Use soft music or the TV. There’s small water features you can buy to keep on the nightstand. Get some environmental sounds to listen too. (I use an app on my phone called SleepStream 2 and I love it. There is a fee.)

2)  Try something visual. I know some people don’t like lights at night so experiment. Try fiberoptic lights or something like a projection of the night sky on the ceiling.
3)  Some people claim aromatherapy distracts them from their tinnitus at night. Find a soothing scent.

4)  Create a regular bed time habit and make it a comfortable routine. Turn off the TV, read a bit, have a cup of tea. Create a peaceful atmoshphere with light background noise. 

5)  Find your happy place. Start creating a visual in your mind of your perfect place. Counting your blessings also works, not matter how small it starts, the list will get bigger.


During the day it’s a little easier to ignore tinnitus but in quiet places or at idle times it can sneak up on you. Again, every time you catch yourself thinking about your tinnitus take it away to something else.

1)  Mindfulness works. If you’re dusting furniture and the ringing is driving you nuts, focus instead on the dusting-the motion your hand makes, the smell of the furniture polish, the trails you make in the dust as you go.  

2)  Keep light noise in the background. Don’t make it too loud because sometimes loud noise can make tinnitus work. Use the radio, some music, the TV.

3)  Some people started a new hobby when tinnitus struck. I remember a story of guy who took up running to ‘run away’ from his tinnitus. He used it to work through his tinnitus and enjoyed it so much he became a marathon runner. Have you always wanted to paint? Take and art class. Take a dance class or start attending a climbing gym. Having something new to do will give you a new focus.

4)  Many hearing aids have a tinnitus program option. Whenit’s quiet at the office, I’ll turn on my tinnitus program and I hear crashing waves in the background. If someone comes in and starts talking to me, the waves fade away and I still hear environmental noise.

5)  Here’s your excuse to go get a message. Tense shoulders leads to a tense neck and even a tight scalp. It could be making your tinnitus worse. It won’t take away your tinnitus but maybe you’ll feel more relaxed and able to deal with the tinnitus better.

These are practical tips. I don’t know much about alternative therapies so I won’t get into that. The American Tinnits Association (ATA) which talks about those therapies and you can explore them on your own. The ATA has tons of good information on tinnitus and you can read the latest updates on studies too.

Some people have tinnitus triggers and spikes. Mine is a lack of sleep and it will make my tinnitus scream! I warn those around me it will be a bad hearing day. For other people it’s loud noises, over the counter meds, diet (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, salt) or smoking. None of those things affect me but lack of sleep will. It’s different for everyone.  

If you’re feeling suicidal please seek help.  I know of someone who was, reached out for help instead and successfully habituated tinnitus.  

Feel free to share your tinnitus story in the comments.  I’m always looking ways to help people with their tinnitus. 

Steps to Coping with Hearing Loss

In coping strategies, Uncategorized on January 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm

lets-talk

by Chelle Wyatt

Part of my job is going to senior centers; to teach a speechreading class, have a table at their health fair or give presentations. Recently a senior center requested a presentation on coping strategies for hearing loss, mostly because the program director herself has a hearing loss and isn’t sure what to do. The idea rolled around in my head for about a week before I could put it to paper. There are the obvious coping strategies;

  1. Face me when you talk. Mostly I tell people “I lipread” these days which usually works great for me.
  2. Get my attention before talking. If this would be done each time, there would be a lot less repeats. Just because I’m in the same room doesn’t mean I’m going to hear you because I need to see your face first to hear.
  3. If after one repeat I still don’t understand then rephrase or add gestures. Gestures can be a huge help.
  4. No talking from other rooms. If someone wants to start a conversation that person, hard of hearing or not, will go to the other person to talk.

Those four little rules will benefit a hard of hearing person a great deal. I added a couple more that aren’t as obvious.

plan-ahead-1

  1. Plan ahead. What will you need to hear better and enjoy in certain socializing situations? Will it be taking a friend who can help you hear? Or taking another hard of hearing person who understands? Will you need an FM system and get permission to hook it up to the microphone that will be used? Show up early to get the front seat? Taking your living room loop to the Super Bowl party? Captions? etc.
  2. Take a class geared toward hearing loss. Find a lipreading class or an ASL class. Attend any workshop you can that has to do with hearing loss. HLAA has free webinars monthly, check them out too.
  3. Join a support group. The SayWhatClub is a great for anyone who has access online. They have email lists and Facebook groups, choose the method you like best and join. Why? They are instant support for the bad times, good for ranting about the hearing world but mostly for the friendship and role models you’ll find. It’s finding your tribe of people. Then see if there’s a local HLAA or ALDA chapter near you because being with others who have hearing loss makes you feel good. Go to as many hearing loss conventions as you can for more friendships!  (The SayWhatClub conventions are awesome and this year’s will be in Savannah.)

I am including in my presentation 3 more items that aren’t commonly considered coping strategies as far as I know but I believe they are basis for everything I listed above.

Get out of the closet, quit hiding your hearing loss. Get it out in the open and start telling people you have a hearing loss. Before we come out of the closet we use bad coping strategies; faking it, bluffing, talking so we don’t have to hear and the deaf nod. This may cause hearing people to think, “She’s losing it. That answer is off the wall.” And, “She’s kind of slow, she doesn’t talk much.” Then there’s the snobby conclusion, “She’s really stuck up. She didn’t stop to talk to me when I called out to her.” A good coping strategy is being upfront about hearing loss and your needs. It’s freeing to let it all out and later on you’ll realize hiding it was a lot more work. Wouldn’t you rather people know it was your broken ears, not a damaged brain? It’s hearing loss, she didn’t hear me instead of being stuck up and unfriendly. Doing this will open a new line of communication with others.

hiding

Educate yourself about hearing loss. Without knowing exactly how your hearing loss works, you can’t describe it to others and they won’t understand our needs as well. Do you have a regular ski slope hearing loss? A reverse slope? A cookie bite? Conductive? Mixed? What exactly does having that hearing loss mean to you when it comes to speech, has an audiologist ever told you? Do you need volume? Less volume, more clarity? Do you hear a man’s voice better or woman’s? The more you know about your hearing loss the more you can address your needs specifically.

If you wear hearing aids or CI’s, how much do you know about them? What are their benefits and limitations? Do you know all the programs they offer? (Background noise, tinnitus relief, telecoil, Bluetooth, etc.) Find books on hearing loss and read all you can.

After that, learn all you can about assistive listening devices. Browse websites, order free catalogs and ask people who attend hearing loss support groups (they are the best resource). Ask for assistive listening devices in theaters, at the movies, at sporting events at church and anywhere you go. Do they have volume control headphones or captioning devices? Which ones benefit you most? Ask because while you’re asking you’re also educating other people about hearing loss.

knowledge-empowers

Stick up for yourself. Stop worrying about burdening other people. Communication is a two way street. It’s up to us to advocate for ourselves and the people in our lives should be able to meet us halfway. My part is paying attention. If I’m stuck on a word and I’m doing my best there should never, ever be an eye roll, a “never mind” or “I SAID…” If you’ve done your job learning about hearing loss, then you’re armed with knowledge, let them have it! I recommend trying to be nice about it. There’s assertive and then there’s aggressive. No one likes being yelled at. Remember communication habits are hard to break (start now!) so have patience but be consistent. There are times when getting mad makes the point but use is sparingly. I made a good impression on my family after getting a “never mind” once too often by hitting the roof. They never said it again. I’m not proud when I lose it, even when it works.

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These were my steps to success with hearing loss, maybe they will work for you too.  There will still be pitfalls, tears and possible tantrums but there will be less of them.  Plus these steps help end the isolation many feel that comes with hearing loss.