Sound Therapy for Tinnitus Sufferers – The Science of Healing Noise
Ask most people what causes tinnitus, and you will hear the answer, “Too much loud noise damaged my ears.” In other words, the common belief is, “My tinnitus is an ear thing.”
Research, however, points to a rather different conclusion. The conclusion that ear noise is not an “ear thing”–but a “brain thing.”
If you have tinnitus, think for a moment about when it is worst. That’s right–just stop for a moment and consider.
It’s when you’ve been in a perfectly silent room for a little while, isn’t it?
Well, you might argue, what does it really matter? Tinnitus is a painful thing to have either way–and notoriously hard to get rid of. Bear with me here…the brain thing is important, because the brain can be retrained.
Let’s talk about a phenomenon known as “auditory habituation.” Just a fancy term for the way the brain gets used to–and tunes out–sounds that it has no real meaning to attach to. Your brain is always searching for meaning. Search, search, search. A regular Sherlock Holmes of meaning investigation, your brain is. And, being a very intelligent organ, it stops its meaning investigation when it realizes that there is simply nothing meaningful going on.
“It’s just noise. Not gonna tune in any longer.”
What does that have to do with tinnitus.
Well, if the noise in your head only bothers you when you perceive it, then the goal is to retrain your brain NOT to perceive it.
How in the world does one accomplish that feat? And what resources are required?
(Pay attention now. Tell you brain not to tune ME out, because this is life-changing research I’m sharing with you!)
You retrain the brain by listening, over a period of months, to a full audio spectrum of white noise at a sound level ever so slightly below the level of your ear noise. This is done with loose-fitting headphones and digital soundtracks specially designed for tinnitus therapy.
Yes, there is more to it than that. There is when and how long and what sounds to listen to. And yes, you really should see your doctor (and probably an audiologist) before determining the very best therapy for your particular tinnitus problem.
But isn’t it just incredibly cool to know that a therapy so simple can provide permanent relief from this very disruptive kind of chronic pain?