Toddi Norum’s Story, In Her Words
I believe that I may have had some low level tinnitus for a long time. In 2014, I started wearing hearing aids with some loss in the upper frequencies of my hearing, most likely attributable to my Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve had that for 30 years and it is not uncommon for MS patients to lose some hearing. I recall having a low level of tinnitus at the beginning, when I started wearing the hearing aids.
While 2020 was stressful, it was in early 2021 that I began to notice that the tinnitus was no longer “helped” by my hearing aids. Could it be that it became more noticeable because of my very quiet COVID “work from home setting?” Or could it could have been stress? All of us have had far more stress since the start of the pandemic. And many of us in heightened health awareness, have noticed things that we didn’t notice before.
I have always eaten healthy and exercised very regularly because of my MS; I work hard to keep symptoms at bay by doing all I can to stay healthy. I am an active and happy, social person, but the tinnitus bothered me; it adversely affected my quality of life and my work. It became difficult to ignore.
I began to look for options to help the nagging and annoying tinnitus, starting first with some supplements for ear health. After a few weeks, I noticed some improvement, but not enough to overcome the attention that tinnitus took from my daily life, work and happiness. Then, I saw an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, who assessed my hearing, but told me that there was nothing that could be done about the tinnitus.
I took more time to investigate other options and potential reasons for the tinnitus. Was there something that had recently changed? Was it due to medications? What were my treatment options? Were there things I could do? Which professionals could help?
I found a lot of information online, but very little of it was hopeful. And there are plenty of charlatans and fakes online, ready to offer you expensive supplements, or tell you about how to “fast” or eat your way to better health. There are uses for supplements and healthy lifestyles for sure, but when you read the scientific studies, you’ll learn that supplementation has been shown to help some, but that the data is not conclusive. Tinnitus, sadly, is not a condition that attracts a lot of well-funded medical research, despite the fact that it affects between eight and twenty-five percent of the human population.
In my searches, I eventually landed on some content produced by practitioners who held certifications in the Jastreboff techniques for Tinnitus management and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). I began to have hope. And I began to better understand the idea of “neuroplasticity,” which in short means that the brain CAN create new connections to adapt to experience.
I eventually landed on Dr. Ben Thompson’s Pure Tinnitus (now called Treble Health) YouTube, an insightful and sensitively produced cast that gave me not just hope, but tools for managing my tinnitus. Of the internet voices, Dr. Ben stood out, most likely because of his intelligent conversations with others with similar tinnitus experiences, coupled with his clear desire to help tinnitus sufferers. I found myself enjoying his reviews of potential options, but mostly, I enjoyed feeling a sense of hope as I listened to his conversations with those who had success in overcoming their own tinnitus.
Dr. Ben is a person I would add to my list of personal “Heroes of the Year, 2021,” held up there next to my amazing spouse, Kevin, who renovated the entire upstairs of our home.
I started doing telehealth sessions with Dr. Ben mid-year, while also utilizing his free resources, and found that I could “retrain” my brain to not only ignore the tinnitus, but to also find some calm in my chaotic work/life imbalance at the time. Since working with Dr. Ben, I have really begun to better understand the concepts behind neuroplasticity and have employed those ideas in other parts of my life. And I’ve learned to better manage my stress responses…not completely, but better.
I had never meditated before discovering Dr. Ben’s calming YouTube meditations, but I am glad I did. In addition, I had never really done a full assessment of the level of stress in my daily life. Now, I better understand my triggers, and I take active steps to manage them. For me, managing my stressors also helps me manage my tinnitus.
On most days now, I barely notice my tinnitus. It is still there, but it has become background noise, like the noise of the air ducts in my home, or the dishwasher, and I work and live beyond it now, sometimes even forgetting that it is there. When I do think about it, I tend to think of it now as a reminder that all is well. I have managed to reframe it, and on most days, it seems like a non-issue.
All this is such a radical change from the early days of noticing the tinnitus in early 2021, where it was all I could think about, and where I was hyper-aware of every sound, every volume change, or ear pressure change. I recall being afraid that it might get worse.
I am grateful that I found Dr. Ben and the Treble Health resources, and have recommended them to others who are trying to cope. Moreover, I have learned so much about neuroplasticity that I no longer fear the tinnitus getting worse, because I know that I have the skills to cope and adapt. It takes time to learn to refocus your attention away from tinnitus, but for me, the efforts paid off.
Thank you for that, Dr. Ben.
I was not paid in any way to write this blog; I did so because I hope that my experiences can help others who feel as overwhelmed and hopeless as I did with my own tinnitus in early 2021.
If you are just at the beginning stages of “hearing” your tinnitus, and feeling a bit off, or even a little crazy, you are not. Know that you can develop the coping skills to “reframe” and cease to notice your tinnitus. Dr. Ben’s free tinnitus resources with Treble Health are a great place to start. Working with him on a paid telehealth basis is a big help as well, but if you only tap his free resources, you will start to feel more positive and perhaps, have more hope.
Tinnitus doesn’t have to be debilitating.
What To Do Next For Tinnitus
At Treble Health, we know the importance of having a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. That includes neuroplasticity, sound therapy, and proper medical tests. We put together a consumer guide to help you master tinnitus management so you can improve tinnitus once and for all. Click here to get the free Tinnitus Guide: 2022 Edition.
Want to speak with an expert audiologist about your options for tinnitus treatment instead? At the tap of a finger, you can schedule a free Treble Health Tinnitus Consultation today! You’ll be connected with a real audiologist, not a salesperson, and there is no obligation or commitment.