This guide offers positive lifestyle tips that can help relieve the negative effects of tinnitus. Whilst it might not be talked about, tinnitus is common in today’s society. It takes many different forms. It can be:
- temporary or persistent
- loud or soft
- progressive or sudden
- the sound itself varies
Whether you're reading this because you have tinnitus or because you know someone with it, there are things you can do to help.
Certain tinnitus treatments have been known to reduce the intensity of the perceived tinnitus.
Stress and anxiety are associated with worsening tinnitus.
Therefore, lifestyle tips to reduce stress can be very effective; as well as tips to help improve sleep, which those with tinnitus often find difficult.
Fast-Paced Lifestyles Can Worsen Tinnitus
With the busyness of work, relationships and the fast-paced lifestyles of today, it's normal for stress or anxiety to increase.
Modern demands on time can be very enjoyable, but this type of lifestyle is also be one of the reasons behind tinnitus worsening or becoming more perceivable.
We know that reducing stress and anxiety is far easier said than done, particularly without guidance on how to do it.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, and meditation can help you relax and reduce some of the anxiety you might experience.
Mindfulness exercises can be an effective way to reduce the intrusion of tinnitus on your day to day life.
There are also simple things you can do to ensure your week isn't full of racing from one thing to the next.
The following lifestyle tips are simple but also powerful ways to reduce both stress and anxiety, which might negatively affect your tinnitus.
1. Schedule Relaxing Activities
It's easy to think you'll be able to fit things you enjoy into your week naturally, but often this isn't the case.
Try making a list of short, simple activities which you enjoy and then schedule time in your week to do them.
Activities that you might enjoy could include:
- Calling a friend
- Doing puzzles
- Reading books
- Watching a movie
- Starting a new hobby
- Going for a walk
- Baking some treats
2. Exercise Regularly
During the pandemic there have been times when the gyms have been forced to shut. This has changed the way that many exercise.
Regular exercise (about 3-5 30-minute sessions a week) is a known stress buster and is generally a great way to boost your overall health.
Exercising releases endorphins which are the brain’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
This doesn’t have to be intense exercise: if your tinnitus is causing you stress and anxiety, a simple walk to get those endorphins pumping can help alleviate tension.
In the warmer weather, if you're exercising outdoors, use the beautiful weather as motivation, watch those flowers blossom and the birds chirp as mindfulness activities!
3. Enjoy a Healthy Diet
While a definitive correlation between diet and tinnitus has not been found, people have noticed a correlation between their diet and their tinnitus symptoms.
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that have been linked to worsening tinnitus.
However, someone's reaction to these foods is person-specific. If you believe your tinnitus is aggravated by specific foods or drinks, try removing the troublemaker from your diet and noting if it makes a difference.
Try keeping a food diary as you do this, as it might well aid you in narrowing down the culprit.
Pulsatile tinnitus is often connected to blood pressure
If you’ve been told this by a medical professional then lowering your blood pressure might make your tinnitus less noticeable.
Alter your diet to include less salty foods, try removing alcohol, smoking and caffeine, and incorporate more regular exercise to see if it reduces the severity of your pulsatile tinnitus.
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4. Protect your Hearing
Excessively loud noises can damage your hearing and worsen tinnitus.
It is imperative that you protect your ears when needed, as our eardrums are very sensitive.
You could try listening to music or TV just a few notches lower.
If blaring sounds are an occupational hazard then wear protective headgear (like soundproof headphones).
However, take care to only wear noise cancelling headphones when they're actually needed.
It might be tempting to wear protective gear all the time but, unfortunately, that won’t help your tinnitus and can have a negative impact on your lifestyle.
Take Care With Cleaning Ears
Another common mistake is to use earbuds incorrectly to clean your ears. If earbuds are used in the wrong way, or too aggressively, it can cause damage to the interior ear.
Becoming more aware of the importance of protecting your ears from any physical damage is an important part of caring for your hearing health and ensuring your tinnitus doesn’t get worse.
5. Improve your Sleep Hygiene
Ensuring you have adequate rest to avoid fatigue is a good way to prevent the perceived worsening of your tinnitus in the day.
However, we know that tinnitus can make it harder to sleep as the sound in the quiet night can be very distracting and steal hours away from sleep.
Sleep hygiene plays an integral role in your nighttime routine. This means making a sleep plan which allows your body to get into a routine around bedtime each night.
Sticking to this routine will not only create triggers and cues for your body to get ready to go to sleep at a certain time a day, but it will also put your body and mind into a more peaceful state before bed.
When you feel like tinnitus is stopping you from sleeping it can be very difficult. Help with sleeping with tinnitus is out there.
6. Try Using Background Noise
It might seem counterintuitive to add more noise to your surroundings, but if you are in a quiet environment it could be making your tinnitus more noticeable.
Simply turning on the radio or some background music can shift your focus away from your tinnitus. This is often called ‘masking’ your tinnitus.
Utilising background noise can offer immediate tinnitus relief for some.
Try to have the sound at a level just slightly louder than your tinnitus. It can distract you from the “ringing/buzzing/whistling/whooshing” sounds associated with your tinnitus.
There are many apps that offer sound libraries that act as tinnitus maskers.
7. Join a Support Group
It's normal to feel isolated and alone when you're struggling with tinnitus.
The British Tinnitus Association offers support groups, now online, which will allow you the opportunity to engage with other people in the same situation as you.
There are many people around the world who are also living with tinnitus. Speaking to others can help you learn about different or new coping strategies that you might not have thought of before, and help you to really understand that you are not alone.
Whether you've just started to notice your tinnitus or have been managing it for years, these lifestyle tips will help you to do everything you can to reduce the intrusion of your tinnitus. With time, you will get used to it so that it rarely bothers you.
Oto Health now also offers a support group: Oto's Tinnitus Support Group, a supportive community for individuals with tinnitus or related conditions to receive regular tips and tricks from the expert team at Oto!
The Oto app offers expert guidance to reduce tinnitus intrusion through a variety of resources:
- CBT techniques
- Sleep support including sleep stories, mindfulness for sleep, and sleep preparation
- Meditation and breathing exercises
- A library of various sound categories such as urban, binaural, ASMR, 3D, sleep, nature, household, and coloured
- Physical therapy stretches for the neck, shoulders, back, jaw, and arms