Imagine this: you've recently recovered from a common cold, and as the typical symptoms fade, a new one makes its unwelcome appearance. Suddenly, your world is filled with the persistent hum, ring or buzz that seems to echo from within your ears, a condition known as tinnitus. This unexpected and seemingly inexplicable intrusion may leave you feeling disoriented and concerned.
You're not alone. Around 10% to 15% of adults in the UK experience persistent tinnitus, with post-viral infections, such as a cold, being a potential trigger . While the connection between a cold and the onset of tinnitus might initially seem bewildering, understanding this link can empower you to lessen its impact on your life and encourage the process of habituation.
This article aims to guide you on this journey, delving into the relationship between colds and tinnitus, its possible impact on your daily life, and the supportive strategies that could help you cope with this disruption more effectively.
How Can a Cold Cause Tinnitus?
Despite being mundane health issues, colds can sometimes spur complications that extend beyond the familiar discomforts of a runny nose, sore throat and mild cough. It can initiate tinnitus, which often continues after the cold subsides.
The Eustachian tubes, acting as the link between your middle ear and the upper throat, along with the back of the nasal cavity, play a crucial role in balancing the pressure in the middle ear. A cold often results in these tubes getting blocked with mucus, leading to a disruption in the ear's pressure balance. This imbalance can trigger discomfort, hearing impairment and, often, the buzzing disturbance of tinnitus.
While it's important to remember that not everyone will experience this auditory disruption after a cold, those who do can find comfort in knowing that they're not alone and there are support mechanisms available.
The Impact of Post-Cold Tinnitus on Everyday Life
The effects of tinnitus reach far and wide, impacting not just physical health but also mental well-being and social life.
One of the primary areas where tinnitus can make its presence felt is in tasks that require focus. Be it a demanding job, an enthralling book or even moments of quiet relaxation, the constant noise of tinnitus can disrupt these activities.
Night-time doesn't offer respite either. Tinnitus can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, with individuals finding it difficult both to drift off to sleep and stay asleep.
Let's not forget the impact on social life. Environments with background noise, such as restaurants, parks or concerts, can cause the perception of tinnitus to intensify. This often results in individuals shying away from social activities they used to enjoy.
However, it's important to remember that the impact of tinnitus can be softened. By adopting certain strategies and habits, we can learn to live with tinnitus. The following sections will guide you through these coping mechanisms, offering support to help make tinnitus less noticeable and showing that a fulfilling life with tinnitus is possible.
Learning to Cope with Tinnitus When Sick
Experiencing ringing in the ears when sick can initially feel like an overwhelming disruption. However, with the right strategies and a compassionate approach toward self-care, it is possible to adjust to this new auditory experience.
Hydration and Rest: Following a cold, it's essential to stay adequately hydrated and ensure ample rest. Drinking enough fluids and resting can contribute to overall recovery and help soothe the body, which can indirectly help in making tinnitus less noticeable.
Gentle Exercise: While you may wish to avoid vigorous workouts when recovering from a cold, gentle exercises such as walking or yoga can be beneficial. They can distract from the persistent ringing of tinnitus while also fostering overall well-being.
Maintaining Warmth: Ensuring warmth, especially during cooler weather, can help the body recover from a cold and lessen the chances of further complications that could exacerbate tinnitus.
Mindfulness and Meditation: These techniques can guide your attention away from the persistent noise, helping you to notice your tinnitus less. Eventually, you will learn to habituate to the sound, allowing it to become part of your auditory landscape rather than an intrusive distraction.
Creating a Soothing Environment: Aim to infuse your surroundings with calming sounds. The gentle rustle of leaves, the soft murmur of a brook or the hum of a fan can provide a soothing background noise, helping to reduce your awareness of the persistent tinnitus sounds.
Professional Guidance: Reach out to healthcare professionals if you have concerns about your tinnitus. Their support can be instrumental in fostering understanding and habituation to this condition. They can suggest strategies, including cognitive behavioural techniques, that can help reduce the impact of tinnitus on your life.
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Embracing Your Tinnitus Journey with Oto
At Oto, we offer innovative digital programmes designed to teach you how to navigate life with tinnitus. Our founding team, with their intimate personal and professional understanding of tinnitus, is focused on one mission: helping you reclaim your life from the disruptions caused by this condition. Our solution is a handy mobile app filled with expertly crafted content to support sleep, focus and learning.
What sets us apart is our innovative approach. Where others concentrate on hardware or retraining regimes, we have harnessed the potency of cognitive behavioural techniques, proven to be effective in managing tinnitus. The app is the brainchild of doctors, ENT specialists, audiologists and researchers, providing a tangible way to minimise tinnitus' impact on your life.
Within our app, you'll discover a variety of tools tailored to enhance different aspects of your daily life impacted by tinnitus. From a guided audio session that feels like a direct conversation with a therapist to comprehensive aids that enhance focus and improve sleep, we've got you covered. You'll also have instant access to our services, providing the necessary support at your fingertips.
We understand that tinnitus isn't just an ear condition; it's a personal journey. For a more personalised approach, our 1-1 programme combines expert video coaching sessions with our mobile app features. This comprehensive support helps reduce the constant disruption, manage stress and improve sleep quality, allowing you to lead a more peaceful life.
Tinnitus after a cold can initially seem like an intrusive disruption. However, with understanding, support and the right strategies, it is possible to reduce your awareness of the condition and navigate life with more tranquillity.
While it's essential to maintain proper hydration, rest, and warmth and seek professional guidance, techniques such as gentle exercise, mindfulness and meditation can also play a crucial role in lessening its impact.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Oto is here to offer a supportive hand with our digital programmes designed to help you habituate to life with tinnitus. Why not download the Oto app and start today?
1. McCormack, A., Edmondson-Jones, M., Somerset, S., & Hall, D. (2016, May 28). A systematic review of the reporting of tinnitus prevalence and severity. Hearing Research.