If you’re hearing ringing in your ears this holiday season, but it’s not Christmas bells, it could be tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external sound source is present. Tinnitus can take on any number of characteristics and is usually a sound that only you can hear. You can experience tinnitus that varies from soft to loud and from low to high pitch. Individuals describe their tinnitus in a number of ways, including a buzzing, clicking, ringing, white noise, and/or roaring sound. Although these descriptions are typical, there are no specific rules about how tinnitus is perceived. Each person’s experience and perception can be different.
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, affecting approximately 45 million Americans to some degree. An estimated 20 million have symptoms severe enough that they seek medical attention, and approximately 2 million cannot function “normally” on a day-to-day basis.
So, if you have tinnitus, could it be worse during the holidays?
According to our tinnitus and sound sensitivity expert at Associated Audiologists, it is possible that tinnitus is more noticeable at the holidays. That’s because stress and lack of sleep can both have an impact on an individual’s perception of tinnitus, and the holidays can be very stressful for some individuals.
While reducing stress, especially at the holidays, can be tough to do, these tips may help:
- List all the areas in your life where there is conflict, excessive worry, uncertainty, or other stress. Concentrate on fresh ways of resolving these issues.
- Delegate some of your duties to others and/or reduce your workload.
- Seek the help of a relevant professional. For example, a financial advisor could potentially reduce financial concerns.
- Communicate how you feel with a close friend, family member, or counselor.
- Exercise regularly to keep yourself healthy, happy, active and relaxed. This can also change chemicals in your body produced in response to stress, which can also improve sleep.
- Mute or turn off your phone when you want to relax.
- Take a relaxing bath or shower to relieve tension.
- Stretch periodically, especially if you sit for hours at a time.
- Educate your family or friends/co-workers about tinnitus; tell them about conditions and settings that are difficult for you; ask them for support.
- Listen to music with 60 beats per minute to decrease stress. You can find songs in this category by searching for “music, 60 beats per minute” online.
- Go outside. Being outside, taking a walk, going for a bike ride, etc., can be very relaxing. Exercise and physical activity are always positive steps.
If you still find your tinnitus to be particularly bothersome, you should seek help. If your condition is affecting your quality of life by reducing your sleep, affecting your performance at work, making tasks in your everyday life less enjoyable, or reducing your ability to concentrate, you may benefit from some sort of tinnitus management strategy.