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An ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) examined my ears and took a thorough medical history that included questions about noise exposure and drugs I take. Diagnosis: tinnitus, with a mild hearing loss in the upper range that closely matched the pitch of the hum. Although the hum was not particularly disturbing, I asked what might be done if it should get loud enough to interfere with my life and ability to hear speech clearly (about 85 percent of tinnitus cases are accompanied by hearing loss). But since my tinnitus is still mild, no mention was made of anything that might relieve the constant noise in my head. Tinnitus is a chronic noise of varying intensity, loudness and pitch that has no external source. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, a potentially life-disrupting condition that affects about 10 to 20 percent of people, mostly those over age 65, but also many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Until recently, no treatment had been shown to have lasting effectiveness in controlled clinical trials, despite a host of remedies variously endorsed by hearing specialists and commercial interests. In addition to a hearing aid, the most commonly prescribed remedy is a so-called masking device, a white-noise machine that introduces natural or artificial sound into the sufferer's ears in an attempt to suppress the perceived ringing.
FEAR AND ANXIETY Cima said in an interview that, like me, most people with tinnitus function fairly well. She said patients would do almost anything to avoid hearing the sound in their heads and the feelings of fear and anxiety that result.
Recently Cima's team demonstrated the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary, psychology-based approach to this problem. AN IMPROVED APPROACH The three-month treatment developed and carefully tested by the Dutch team is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and relies on principles of exposure therapy long proven effective to treat phobias.
Unlike the use of a tinnitus masker, the treatment is simple, relatively brief and does not require patients to purchase or use devices to gain relief. Cima's team enrolled 492 patients with varying degrees of tinnitus and randomly assigned them to receive either usual care or "specialized" care. Patients may also be given antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, sleep aids or other medication to relieve emotional distress and other disabling symptoms. It is not the noise itself but "patients' extremely negative reaction to it that creates daily life impairment," Cima explained. She likened the approach to helping people overcome their fear of spiders by inducing deep relaxation and gradually introducing them to increasingly realistic objects of their fear. Henry of the veterans medical center, who has been involved in tinnitus research for a quarter century, said his team uses a similar approach with five treatment sessions, which "takes care of about 95 percent of cases," he said.
Field NotesMore gyms are getting into the diet plan fieldFitness studios are taking a holistic approach to health with greater emphasis on nutrition. Jane BrodyBrody: Home is sweet, until you can no longer live thereI suspect that most people are reluctant to think about changing where and how they live as long as they are managing well at the moment. If the bone conduction levels differ from the air conduction levels, sound waves are probably being obstructed on their passage through the eardrum and middle ear. If air and bone conduction are the same, it indicates that the problem is likely to be located in the inner ear.
So, if you have a moderate sensorineural unilateral hearing loss caused by infectious parotitis don’t panic. It is just the medical way of saying you have nerve deafness in one ear caused by mumps and have problems hearing sounds which are quieter than 41dB. Please do not be afraid to ask the ENT doctor or audiologist to explain your hearing chart to you. Here, since the left curve is higher on the chart, the left ear actually can hear better, even though the right ear is considered normal.
If your Hearing Curves are within the shaded “Normal Hearing Area” then you hear all tones very well! The sample printout shows the four tested areas from the Hearing Booth and shows a 0% loss in each ear at all checked areas. It is very common for people to have a high pitch hearing loss, and this type of loss is very rewarding to correct.
Because the red line is higher on the chart, the right ear tested better than the left although both sides need hearing correction to hear clearly. For this reason, people with a high pitch loss oftentimes complain that people mumble or speak incorrectly.
If you register with the Hearing Curve, you’ll find the Speech Banana chart relative to your Hearing Booth results. Depending on severity, may miss hearing high pitches noises like a phone ring, microwave or wrist watch beep if not close enough to it.
At times, it may be easy to predict or guess to fill in the gaps when they don’t hear all the information, based on knowledge of the speaker, the context, and the topic of conversation.
Here there is considerable hearing loss in each ear, although the left ear is a bit better. The left ear here is a bit better than the right ear, but both sides need hearing correction. If you register with the Hearing Curve, you’ll find the Speech Banana chart relative to your Hearing Booth results.

Complains people mumble, speak improperly, or has a hard time when people don’t speak while looking at them. Click here to see a sample printout from the Hearing Booth of someone who has hearing loss at every type of pitch. A few weeks later, there was a new, additional sound, louder and lower pitched, in my right ear.
Then, fortuitously, I heard an interview on the radio with a scientist who described a new treatment for tinnitus. However, occasionally these routine signals are treated as a source of alarm and raised to consciousness. Apparently if you are put in a soundproof room for an hour, there is a 90% chance you will develop tinnitus — the brain is constantly monitoring sound inputs, and when there are none externally, it starts to pay attention to internally generated signals. The high-pitched tone in my left ear gradually became less frequent and less noticeable and went away entirely after several months. With this experience, I was attuned to the idea of brain plasticity, which refers to the capacity of the brain to rewire itself. Doidge was making accessible information from the frontiers of research and therapy that challenged long-established views about the brain, and offered hope where there had been little previously. When I was young, my friends and I somehow learned that the brain was a static and degenerating organ. One example is a study of strengthening a little-used muscle, the one that moves your little finger away from the ring finger.
Because of the popularity of The Brain that Changes Itself, numerous people contacted Doidge, introducing him to other work on neuroplasticity.
Another route to healing via neuroplasticity is to shine low-intensity lasers on parts of the body, even the brain itself.
Doidge is willing to examine approaches to healing that are dismissed by mainstream medicine, though always putting these in the context of the science of neuroplasticity.
Other tools for healing that Doidge discusses include listening to manipulated sounds and an electronic device placed on the tongue to stimulate neuromodulation. The problem is when bad mental habits take over: unlearning these habits is difficult and requires sustained effort. Moskowitz’s inspiration was simple: what if he could use competitive plasticity in his favor? What if, when he was in pain, he could try to override the natural tendency to retreat, lie down, rest, stop thinking, and nurse himself? Moskowitz went on to conquer his own severe pain and became a pain medicine specialist, helping many others. Doidge tells many stories of recovery from seemingly hopeless conditions, including chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, brain damage and autism.
If you or someone close to you has any of the conditions addressed by Doidge, it may be worthwhile to read his books as a starting point, check out his website, and decide whether to investigate further. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Among possible causes are head and neck injuries, drugs that damage the ear, blood vessel disease, autoimmune disorders, ear conditions and disorders of the temporomandibular joint. But for about 3 percent of people with the condition, it is extremely disabling, causing intense distress, fear and anxiety, and leaving them unable to function. The technique, published last spring in The Lancet, does not make the ringing go away but does show that now there is real hope for relief for people whose tinnitus impairs their ability to work, sleep and enjoy life. While the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for tinnitus is not new, the team's demonstration of a scientifically validated, comprehensive approach to the problem offers a therapeutic blueprint that others can use. Usual care, in the Netherlands as well as in the United States, involves a medical exam and hearing test, typically followed by a prescription for a hearing aid, a masking device, or both.
Following an education session about tinnitus and lessons in deep relaxation, patients are gradually exposed to an external source of the very ringing they hear in their heads.
Reporter Barbara Peters Smith relays the latest research from the "Obesity Issues 2012" conference in Aurora, Colo.
By comparing the air conduction thresholds (O or X) with the bone conduction thresholds ([, ?, ] or ?) at each pitch, we can determine if a hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural. With age related hearing loss a person can usually hear low-pitched sounds better than high-pitched sounds. Thus, the person with this audiogram will be able to hear high-pitched sounds better than low-pitched sounds in the left ear. This helps explain why people with hearing impairment are more likely to suffer from tinnitus. My tinnitus was gone as a result of retraining my brain, and I did this by conscious efforts to change how I paid attention. Rather than using only the good arm and leaving the impaired one alone, this therapy in essence tied the good limb down and forced the patient to use the damaged limb intensively, up to hours per day, with gradually increasing challenges. The intensive training triggers major changes in the brain: to carry out the tasks, the brain uses unaffected parts of itself to carry out the limb function.

It describes constraint-induced limb therapy and many other wonders that can be achieved by taking advantage of neuroplasticity. We would humorously remind each other that the brain loses 50,000 cells every day, a relentless downhill descent.
His new book, The Brain’s Way of Healing, examines various techniques and therapies that utilise neuroplasticity.
This somehow causes the body to reorganise scrambled nerve systems, that send unwarranted signals, and eliminate the problem. The picture that comes across is that the brain can be stimulated to rewire itself and to function more normally by using a variety of techniques, involving virtually any way of sending signals, including using the mind to do this. Doidge tells about psychiatrist Michael Moskowitz who developed chronic pain and studied research in the area until he came up with a new approach. What if, when his pain started – instead of allowing those areas to be pirated and “taken over” by pain processing – he “took them back” for their original main activities, by forcing himself to perform those activities, no matter how intense the pain was? In this case, as with other therapies, focused attention becomes a way to reprogramme the brain. In the form of deliberate practice, it is the key to expert performance in many domains, such as chess, golf, writing and playing the violin. If doctors say you will never regain a function, they might be right, but invoking the power of neuroplasticity is making some of their predictions out of date. It is most apparent to the sufferer when all is quiet and may not be noticed when the person is otherwise distracted — while participating in physical activity, for example, or listening to music. The audiograms below show (a) bilateral mild sensorineural hearing loss and (b) bilateral moderate sensorineural hearing loss. Some people have very keen hearing (meaning their Hearing Curves are high up on the Hearing Curves chart).
This wasn’t all that worrying — a couple of times every year, I would hear such a sound for five or ten seconds, and then it went away. I believed the standard view that tinnitus is irreversible and potentially progressive, getting worse with time. All the time there are signals going from the ear to the brain, for example from blood flowing through the eardrums, but normally the brain treats these signals as irrelevant, and does not bring them to conscious attention.
The usual idea was that because stroke destroys part of the brain, disability was permanent: limbs would be useless, speech was impaired, and so on, depending on which parts of the brain were affected.
For example, with your impaired limb, you repeatedly attempt to put a ball through a large hoop, then a somewhat smaller hoop, chalking up hours of forced effort. Doidge, a psychiatrist, interviewed leading researchers in the field and wrote about their work in an engaging way, often using stories of individuals to motivate discussions of more technical matters. Doidge again uses personal stories by healers, scientists and individuals dealing with their own health problems to motivate his descriptions of approaches to healing. The Feldenkrais method is normally thought of as in the same context as the Alexander technique or Pilates, namely as some sort of alternative health modality.
The brain is like a muscle: physical activity strengthens the components that are exercised, and paying attention is a way of doing this. He would force those brain areas to process anything-but-pain, to weaken his chronic pain circuits. In the form of meditation or mindfulness, it is one of the most potent tools for achieving increased happiness.
What seems to have occurred is that he forced parts of his brain to consciously take over functions that are normally controlled unconsciously by brain areas that were degenerating.
Doidge, however, presents Feldenkrais as a pioneer in using neuroplasticity as a tool for recovery of normal body functions, decades ahead of the laboratory studies that would explain how his methods worked.
In these and other areas, the capacity to focus attention needs to be combined with knowledge about what to focus on and how. Quite a few of them are in the early stages of development, many involve specialised equipment, and all require practitioners to have advanced skills to obtain good results. Rather than craving silence, as before, I welcomed the capacity to hear naturally generated external sounds. New experiences do not just add memories, but change the way connections are made in the brain.
Actually, the muscle may not be stronger, but the mental circuits that activate the muscle become better developed, a process that also occurs in conventional weight training. And not everyone can afford to travel to specialised treatment units or to provide the intense therapy required. Little did I know that checking to hear whether the sound was there was the worst thing I could do.

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