It’s Not All in Your Head – Natural Sleep Solutions For Tinnitus

Remember all those concerts you went to when you were a kid? Remember how Mom told you to stuff your ears with tissues or you would suffer permanent hearing loss? Well…

Tinnitus is what you’re suffering from when you hear sounds-ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, whistling, humming – when no external sounds are present. Tinnitus isn’t actually a disease but a symptom resulting from a range of underlying causes, including ear infections, foreign objects or wax in the ear, and injury from loud noises, including those concerts you went to as a kid. Some of the causes are still mysterious.

Levels of tinnitus symptoms can range from annoying to debilitating. And this can greatly interfere with your quality of life, and ultimately make trying to get a decent night’s sleep next to impossible. There are solutions to controlling your tinnitus and ultimately improving your quality of life. (Meniere’s disease is essentially tinnitus coupled with hearing loss and vertigo – and it needs to be established through thorough testing.)

1. Determine any food intolerance that may be responsible for your tinnitus. Food intolerance is different from food allergies and may be experienced in ways similar to allergic reactions, including gastro-intestinal discomfort. The only way to effectively determine a food intolerance is through the process of elimination, since no actual tests exist to determine food intolerance. In particular look at salacylates, and the excellent work being done by Sue Dengate of the Food Intolerance Network.

2. Some people react to perfumes and additives, and even fresh fruit and vegetables can contain food additives that cause a food intolerance in some people. The only way to determine your food intolerance is to slowly eliminate foods from your diet, and keep careful records: how do you feel before and after eating the food? Did eliminating that food have a positive effect? Give each food removal 2-3 weeks to allow it to properly and effectively process. The Failsafe Diet is one such program.

3. Salt can be a factor, for some people, with tinnitus – and is definitely a factor with Meneires disease. A low salt diet can be particularly significant in reducing the symptoms of someone suffering from vertigo. After salt reduction, tinnitus symptoms for some people may improve, a matter of trial and error unfortunately. Salt is difficult but not impossible to avoid, since it’s found almost everywhere: in restaurants and in packaged, processed foods. Following a low sodium diet is essential in reducing and controlling your tinnitus symptoms. Sodium intake has been linked to elevated blood pressure, mood and sleep disorders, heart disease, and fluid retention.

One solution is to study food labels when you go shopping. The ideal diet contains no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium-about one teaspoon-per day! You’ll begin to see elevated sodium levels in practically every product you buy-from pasta sauce to soda to salad dressing to canned vegetables. Sodium lurks everywhere. Concentrate on how you can reduce your salt intake. Buy food products with reduced sodium. Try making your own sauces and dressings and soups. Drinking lots of water helps eliminate salt deposits from the body.

An excellent book by a nominee for Australian of the Year is Salt Matters by Dr. Trevor Beard.

4. Increase your intake of potassium-rich foods, which have been shown to counter the negative affects of sodium. Incorporate such foods as bananas, oranges, sunflower seeds, beans, squash, mint, potatoes, and nuts into your diet to increase the amount of potassium you eat.

5. The Neuromonics tinnitus treatment, available in clinics in Australia (and possibly now internationally), attempts to eliminate or reduce tinnitus by providing a pattern of sounds via music to re-train the neural pathways involved in tinnitus. This newish technology developed by Adjunct Associate Professor Paul Davis and Curtin University of Technology after years of research (launched in 2004), uses algorithms to customise the treatment for individuals. This could be worth investigating.

6. Studies have shown that taking ginkgo biloba can alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus due to ginkgo’s free-radical-scavenging properties. Users of ginkgo biloba have shown improvement in mental cognition, and in short-term memory loss, resulting in less stress and greater mental clarity. With ginkgo again, trial and error in your individual case is the recommendation.

7. And of course, there’s the “solution” that everyone is continually presented with – the playing of white noise in the background to distract attention from the actual tinnitus and allowing you to feel calmer in the midst of the annoying sounds. A strategy, rather than a solution, but worth it nonetheless. It’s worth buying an iPod Shuffle or small MP3 player just for bedtime, programmed exactly as you like. Download your preferred selection of noises, sounds and music, without annoying your partner in bed. There were special machines in the marketplace, but sometimes actually locating them is a challenge.

8. Lastly, there are tinnitus associations and Menieres support groups with an online presence. They include the American Tinnitus Association, Australian Tinnitus Association, Meniere’s Support Group of NSW, The Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre, etc. And there’s the Salt Skip Program for reducing salt in your diet.

Controlling your tinnitus symptoms can offer solutions to your sleep issues and can greatly improve your quality of life.