Mindfulness is making headlines! You may have seen it recommended for stress relief. Maybe you’ve read up on mindful eating for weight loss. Science is now also uncovering an important and exciting link between mindfulness and tinnitus relief.
The frustration of tinnitus
Tinnitus, commonly referred to as buzzing or ringing in the ears, is believed to be one of the most common health-related conditions in America. It affects an estimated 45 million people in the United States alone. There is no known cure.
What many find interesting is that tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of another condition or injury such as:
Hearing damage from loud noise
Age-related hearing loss
Fluid build-up in the ear
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure
Most agree that whatever the cause, the buzzing of tinnitus can be frustrating and damaging to mental health.
Mindfulness for tinnitus relief
With so many Americans and people worldwide affected by tinnitus and links between tinnitus, depression, anxiety and other health concerns growing, science is racing to find answers and solutions. From an experimental device that targets nerve activity in the brain to sound therapy to acupuncture, researchers and individuals continue to explore ways to minimize and hopefully one day prevent and cure tinnitus.
Some of the most recent research is now focusing on mindfulness for tinnitus relief.
In the most recent study, published in the journals Ear and Hearing and Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, and led by Dr Laurence McKenna from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and Dr Liz Marks, from Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) showed promising results for tinnitus sufferers.
In the study, the effectiveness of MBCT was compared to that of relaxation therapy. Relaxation therapy is a standard recommendation for those with tinnitus. While the two approaches may sound similar, they seek to relieve tinnitus from two very different angles. While relaxation therapy focuses on managing the stress involved with tinnitus, MBCT’s goal is to accept the tinnitus rather than fighting it.
The results of the comparison were very promising for the use of MBCT. Participants using MBCT experienced a more significant reduction in the severity of the ringing sensation, and that improvement lasted longer than improvements seen with relaxation therapy.
“The results of this research are extremely encouraging particularly for people with chronic tinnitus who find that current treatments are not working for them. We really hope that more people will be able to benefit from this approach moving forward,” David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association, said about the findings.
The future of tinnitus treatment
Mindfulness has been practiced for millennia. Could it now be the newest answer to living with tinnitus? Research like this offers hope, and it is just one of many studies being conducted on how mindfulness meditation can help those with tinnitus reduce the ringing.
While more research is needed into mindfulness for tinnitus relief, it may be a good option if you have tinnitus. To learn more about mindfulness and other ways to manage your tinnitus, talk to your hearing healthcare provider.