Monday, November 10, 2008

Tinnitus

From the Georgia Peach Cochlear Implant Association Newsletter

By Al Laframboise

PRELUDE
Well, I don’t know how to start this. I want to help people who have Tinnitus. Certainly
we all know that Tinnitus is the existence of sound that a patient hears, but which does not
appear to have an outside source. I want to quote the ‘Mayo Clinic on Better Hearing and
Balance’ maybe more than once so I will just refer to that book as the Mayo clinic.
The Mayo Clinic says tha t ‘Tinnitus may develop from multiple causes. Some
researchers believe that tinnitus results from damage to the hair cells inside your cochlea.
Turbulent flow through your blood vessels may produce a sound sensation’. I have read another
book from the Boston area which strongly suggests that stress is what is causing this turbulent
flow. I do not have that book handy to provide you with a title.
So, although I admit to the possibility of the existence of other causes to tinnitus, I am
planning on providing you with some personal background on my tinnitus and its cure. I also am
writing this article in hopes that the readers would accept a challenge to prove me either right or
wrong.
The Mayo Clinic points to the possibility that hearing loss is the initial source and when
added to the high stress in the patient will produce tinnitus, but you knew that. There is some
suggestion about the use of hearing aids, masks, and drug therapy in order to manage the
problem.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND
I lost some of my hearing back in 1954 as either exposure to loud artillery noises from
155mm cannons or the ingestion of the drug Streptomycin. After that my hearing progressively
decreased until I no longer heard sound. In 1996, I was given a cochlear implant which has
proven to be more than a miracle. The implant is not the subject here so I will proceed to the
subject of tinnitus.
While attending Fordham University between 1956 and 1960, I lived with various
roommates in different apartments in New York City. Living in a New York apartment in low
cost rent areas leaves one subject to robbery on a regular basis. We were robbed at least once a
year during that period. But we lived where we could afford to live. On a daily basis, when I
went to bed at night and my roommates also were in bed, the room should have been quiet, but I
could hear what sounded like someone scratching the keyhole in the door. I did not realize that it
was the sounds of tinnitus raising their ugly appearance.
In 1961, I was married and we moved to New Jersey. When we went to bed at night, I
could hear what sounded like footsteps. I arose more than once until we purchased a dog. My
logic was that if there really was a person making the scene, my dog would provide enough noise
to alert me to that occurrence. It did not make the noise go away, but I felt that I could sleep with
the noise that showed its ugly head when my head hit the pillow.
It was in the late 1960s that I was finally fitted for my first hearing aid. I did not mention
the bed time noises to the Beltone distributor as I did not know it was associated with my loss.
Multiple hearing aids followed, but none were successful in application. In 1978, I moved to
Marietta, Georgia. About a year later I joined ‘Self Help for Hard of Hearing’ (since named –
Hearing Loss Association of America). This was the start of my advocacy to help others with
hearing problems. It was not till then that I found out there was such a thing as Tinnitus. It was
strange to find out about condition that I had conquered the year before.

HOW DID I WIN THE BATTLE?
Let’s back up a little: We were still living in Massachusetts. I was not looking for a cure
for tinnitus. I did not know what tinnitus was. I accepted that I was just one of those weird
people who had noise in their head. But I was subject to high stress. I knew that. The stress was
high as an accountant. It was high as a computer programmer. It was high as a person with
hearing loss. It was also high as a husband and father. I knew that if that stress continued, I
would be another one person considering suicide.
Then, I heard about a thing called Transcendental Meditation (™). A free class was
available and I brought my wife with me to that class. Eventually, I paid for the entire family to
have exposure to TM. The rest of the family did not continue the meditation practice, but I
continue today. Today, I live a stress free life devoted toward helping others where I can.
The important thing about this story is that in the process of lowering the amount of stress
within myself, I discovered that the tinnitus I had been experiencing since 1956 was gone. Well,
maybe not 100%. On occasion I experience it but it lasts less than 5 minutes. Of course, I believe
that if the meditation would remove the tinnitus for me, it could be of use for others.
I know that I cannot expect anyone who is in the practice of treating tinnitus to just take
my word that meditation might produce these same results for their patients. There are many
reasons for that. Probably the most popular reason is that there exists a certain lack of belief in
the usefulness of meditation. There are enough jokes about meditation for anyone to conclude
that it is something for people who are also the type who use type drugs that produce
hallucinations. There are jokes about the requirement to assume a lotus position. I know that I
never would have committed to meditation if I had to assume a lotus position. Out of curiosity,
once, I assumed that position for about 10 seconds when I bowled over backward.
Perhaps it would help if I briefly described the way I meditate. I sit upright in a chair with
no support for my neck and for 20 minutes close my eyes and repeat my mantra. A mantra is a
fancy sounding word for a sound that has no meaning to the meditator. If I find that I am
thinking and not repeating my mantra, I return to repetition of the mantra.
I recently suggested to an audiologist about meditation for the management of tinnitus. I
told him how I had been meditating since 1978 and I have not had any serious amount of tinnitus
since. His response was less than favorable.
Now after Reading the above, I expect that you may have one opinion about my
suggestion that may differ from mine. But allow me for just one minute to offer this. Suppose,
just suppose, that I am correct. Suppose that meditation could offer you something that you have
not considered before. How could you determine whether this is true or not?
Of Course, you can ask a bunch of people. The kinds of answers you can expect are
really related to what the individual thinks about meditation. That makes sense. What I am
suggesting is that you consider pursuing the practice of meditation solely for the purpose of
reducing your stress. Nothing more, just to reduce stress will be your objective. Once you start,
allow yourself 3 months of practicing meditation. Then question yourself, ‘How is my tinnitus?’
When you have the answer to that, email me and let me know what you think. Negative
comments are encouraged as well as positive ones.
If I am wrong, we have proven that meditation is not a management tool for tinnitus. If I
am right, we have changed your world. Either result makes for something worthwhile. What do
you think?
In almost every city, there are meditation centers that are anxious to reduce your stress.
While I can recommend Transcendental Meditation, I am led to believe that other forms of
meditation can work also. It is just that I am not familiar with them to recommend them to you.

My email address is a.laframboise@comcast.net. Hey, tell me how you did!

7 comments:

Paw Paw Bill said...

I also have tinnitus, which began when I lost my hearing and mostly takes the form of sounding like someone playing the radio in the next room as heard through the wall. I do not usually hear it, or perhaps notice it, when wearing my cochlear implant BTE gear, but when I remove these devices as I prepare to go to bed, this is usually the time when I am most likely to hear it. As I am 100 percent deaf, this proves the sound is not coming from any external source.

Keith said...

I also have had a mild form of tinnitus for several years. Since learning Transcendental Meditation the noise has diminished quite a lot and there are periods when it is completely gone. I am hopeful that soon it will be permanently eliminated. Your story gives me hope. Thanks for sharing it.

Ruth said...

I am not big on using TM to reduce stress,and thus maybe tinnitus, mostly because of the cost. There are a number of relaxation techniques and meditation techniques you can try for free. The Mayo clinic website has instructions on a simple mediation technique you can use.

Also, watch the aspirin, it can also cause tinnitus.

laughing crow said...

actually, over 250 researchers and scientists from around the world have established that the TM technique is by far the most effective mind-body practice for reducing stress — and for reducing stress related disorders. the NIH has granted over $24 million for scientists to further the research on TM< with groundbreaking results. (www.DoctorsOnTM.org). this research was published in over 350 peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals, and conducted at independent institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Yale MEdical School, UCLA, etc. the majority of these researchers had absolutely no affiliation with any TM organization, but even if some of them did (approximately 15%), after 350 vetted studies the peer-review process has validated the solidity and high quality of the body of research. Only the most well-designed and promising research studies win the fierce competitions for NIH grant money, and over and over again for 20 years these studies on TM have been getting funding from the NIH. plus, the grants awarded for TM research are much larger than the average grants to scientists. i know for a fact that one scientist researching TM just received the largest grant ever awarded from a newer wing of the NIH that looks at alternative approaches to health.

meditation is often given a bum rap by people who are bias or don't understand science and the peer-review process. so i offer this short explanation to qualify Keith's post suggesting TM as helpful tool to reduce stress. it is saving people's lives, as the NIH studies on stroke and heart attack show.

Treci said...

Hello Al. I, too suffer from tinnitus. Mine is manageable...I really only hear it when things are quiet or if I shift my focus to it. Trying to fall asleep at night can be a little challenging. I just began the practice of TM. I'll let you know in a few months what my results are! Thanks!!

Chelsy brown said...

Sound therapy is popularizing these days because it is a very efficient and 100% natural therapy which has no side effects. Sound therapy can heal Tinnitus. There is no doubt the power of Sound Healing and positive thinking is astonishing.

mikel said...

I know this is old, but I typed in 'transcendental meditation' and 'tinnitus' and this was one of the first to come up. I have tinnitus which occurred after a jaw trauma. Its a high pitch constant frequency, which is accompanied by a further higher pitch frequency when I open my mouth. Weird. However, I also notice it louder with caffeine, chocolate, alcohol. Supposedly marijuana makes it louder but I don't know.

Anyway, I have discovered I have bruxism I think its called, where you grind your teeth in your sleep. I think I am 'stressed' even though I don't actually feel that stressed. It doesn't help that I exercise but don't do nearly enough stretching, so I think my muscles are constantly tight.

So now paying a fortune in dental work has made me pay attention and at least try to diminish stress. I thought of meditation and thought I'd learn more. I'd heard of David Lynch's foundation, but I always thought meditation meant you did it in silence, and with tinnitus that would quickly drive me up the wall. I think the brain is partly always in stress just from the tinnitus. Anyway, good article, I'd forgotten about the mantra stuff, so I'm definitely going to get into this and give it a try.

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