Tinnitus is a common problem for many musicians; it can affect their music-making and performance. Tinnitus noise is typically a persistent ringing in the ears ranging from mildly annoying to severely debilitating. If you are struggling with tinnitus, you can take specific steps as a musician to help manage tinnitus symptoms and ensure that your hearing remains healthy.
1. Wear ear protection
One fundamental way to prevent or reduce the severity of tinnitus is by protecting your ears when you’re playing music or attending concerts. Wearing custom-made earplugs or other forms of hearing protection will go a long way towards keeping your ears safe and healthy.
2. Take breaks during practice
— When you’re playing music, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you don’t notice when your ears start ringing. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you take regular breaks during practice sessions. This will allow you to rest your ears and avoid any potential damage from long periods of exposure to loud sounds.
3. Exercises for tinnitus
You can do exercises to relieve tinnitus symptoms, such as yoga and meditation. Taking time out of your day to focus on relaxation and mindfulness may be particularly helpful in managing stress levels, which have been linked to increased tinnitus symptoms.
4. Speak to your doctor
Your doctor may suggest using tinnitus sound therapy (which uses low-level background noise), medication, or even surgery if necessary.
5. Go to an audiologist
Very few recognised tinnitus treatments exist. However, an audiologist can diagnose your tinnitus, check if you need ear wax removal, and recommend treatments accordingly.
6. Change your diet
Eating foods high in magnesium and zinc can help reduce tinnitus symptoms, and eating foods that boost brain health, such as salmon, walnuts, avocado, eggs, and almonds. Avoiding processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol may also be beneficial for reducing symptoms associated with tinnitus.
Adequate sleep is essential for overall health; aiming for seven to eight hours per night is recommended by doctors and experts and can help relieve tinnitus and stress.
While there is no cure for tinnitus just yet, there are treatments that can help, and the symptoms of tinnitus can be reduced. We spoke to Lee Fletcher (RHAD), (BSHAA) Principle audiologist and company director at Regain Hearing about his pioneering tinnitus treatment at his clinics in London and Kent.
Can you explain how you diagnose tinnitus to us?
Our comprehensive consultation begins with an in-depth interview using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). This interview is part of a world-recognised scoring system that helps us grade the severity of your tinnitus. Once we understand how tinnitus impacts your life, we can develop a personalised treatment plan based on that information. The next step involves completing an assessment which may include Pure Tone Audiometry, Speech Discrimination and Tinnitus Matching tests.
Pure Tone Audiometry is used to identify sound frequencies you can hear, and Speech Discrimination helps us determine what sounds you comprehend. Last but not least, Tinnitus Matching helps us identify the pitch and frequency of the tinnitus sound you currently hear. By understanding each aspect of your condition more thoroughly through these tests, we can better tailor our treatment plans to fit your needs so that you can get relief from your tinnitus as soon as possible.
Once diagnosed, how do you treat tinnitus?
After your evaluation, our audiologists will help you create a unique tinnitus management plan tailored to your needs. This could incorporate sound cancellation techniques, hearing aids or even a specialised tinnitus app. We’ll discuss the most effective approach
and fully explain how it works so everything’s clear before getting started. We understand this process can be daunting, so we provide full support and aftercare while you implement your treatment plan.
Do you have any advice for musicians who are concerned about tinnitus?
Don’t just put up with it. With the right treatment plan, symptoms can be reduced, making it easier to manage the effects of tinnitus.