Anxiety and Ringing in Ears (Tinnitus)
By Dr. R.E. Freedman
It's not unusual to become aware of a background hissing or ringing in your ears when you are upset, stressed or in a very quiet room. This hypersensitivity occurs when your brain becomes reactive and your body goes into "fight or flight" mode. It may also occur when one has experienced prolonged stress and worry. In essence, all senses are turned onto high alert in order to protect you from a perceived danger. Sights, sounds, smells, touch and generally all of your senses are enhanced and in most cases exaggerated to almost uncomfortable levels.
With this hypersensitivity one becomes consciously and uncomfortably aware of auditory sounds that were never noticeable in the past. It's as if someone has turned up the sound on your auditory (hearing) system and naturally the more upset one becomes, the louder and longer it persists.
The explanation of Tinnitus (ringing ears) for this is quite simple:
Tinnitus is a ringing, whooshing, hissing or pulsating, throbbing sound in one or both ears (usually stronger in one) that becomes more noticeable under stress, reclining in bed or in a quiet room.
Triggers that often result in Tinnitus:
- Neck difficulties such as Arthritis, or Stiff Neck, Upper Spinal Problems and Cracking Neck Sensations.
- TMJ (Temporalmandibular Jaw Difficulties) caused by Malocclusion (bite off or dental problems), experienced by clicking in jaw, popping sounds while chewing or yawning, exacerbated by grinding teeth while asleep or under stress. Jaw is often sore in front of ear which often extends to head, neck or back. Ringing in ears is also a common symptom of TMJ.
- Anxiety: Reactivity to outside stimuli due to a shock or prolonged period of stress which has yet to be reconciled. Fearful thought follows which often leads to sensitization.
- Sensitization: This is when the mind and body become extremely aware of every sensation which occurs, in an effort to keep one "on guard" in case of danger. This is the brain's way of protecting you after a period of prolonged stress, which alerts and awakens all your senses to turn up the volume.
The Science:: The science behind these sensations is simple to understand and will enable you to use this understanding to release your fears, which often contribute the most to the fueling of the sensation. Anxiety reactions create the release of Adrenaline into your system. This Adrenaline, along with other stress chemicals increase the blood flow in the body and enhances, stimulates or excites certain organs and their performance capabilities. It stimulates the digestive tract, often resulting in IBS reactions. It stimulates blood flow to the face, resulting in blushing and warm flushes. It stimulates or excites your ears and hearing apparatus to turn up the volume and listen for more faint sounds that normally remain softly in the background. This is very noticeable in animals when there ears perk up, listening for threatening sounds in their surroundings. Naturally our ears aren't noticeably lifting but it's the identical principle as one goes into alert mode and the volume intensifies within
The good news is that this is temporary and easily manageable when approached correctly. Understanding is the first place to go in order to achieve full recovery.
- Often learning the science behind this interruption is enough to calm one down and allow healing to take place. Without fearful thought and contemplation concerning this anxiety related symptom, the mind and body adjust and hearing settles back down to normal intensity. This will happen, when you learn to let go of your fear in a very specific manner.
- The brain actually does adjust to these intrusive sounds as it has its own way of compensating for disturbances such as these. The calmer the individual, the more rapid the adjustment. If you are anxious concerning this, do not fear because there is a very specific treatment where you can learn to settle down and create a less reactive mind and body.
- You may not be aware of this, but the more stressed you become the more intensified the ringing or hissing sounds become as well. This is why many find a loud hissing will often disappear completely after they fall asleep at night and actually soften the following morning, until they begin thinking about it again. Some even find it the ringing is completely gone until they focus on it or remind themselves about it. So much is dependent on how one thinks and the fear surrounding the thought.
- If you suffer with TMJ, visit your dentist and look into appliances you may use when asleep to interrupt grinding and give the jaw a rest. Muscles will relax and this often leads to great relief, not only from tinnitus but also TMJ pain in the face and jaw. Be aware of jaw clenching during the day and consciously relax your jaw and apply relaxation steps to ensure less pressure to this area.
- Speak to your physician about arthritis in neck area and learn physical therapy exercises to bring forth relief from a stiff or cracking neck.
- Remind yourself that anxiety symptoms often lead to Hyperacusis or acute hearing where sounds seem louder and more intrusive when stress is the culprit, regardless of the trigger. Your brain will always adjust if you learn to step out of your own way and learn to specifically relieve the stress.
- Don't be fooled into believing you have to over-protect your ears by seeking out quiet places and situations. The ears actually require adequate stimulation. This allows the brain to turn down the internal volume, resulting in relief of intrusive noise rather than pump it up, which occurs when you seek prolonged periods of forced quiet time.
Bottom line, do not become stuck in sensitization or the fight or flight mode of living. Sensitized individuals are hyperaware and hyperreactive to all outside stimuli. By learning to live in a calmer less reactive way, you are turning down the volume on all levels. Hearing returns to normal as tinnitus fades into the background where it belongs. Reactivity to stressful situations becomes easier to handle when approached correctly and life becomes more enjoyable on all levels.
Dr. R. E. Freedman
Anxiety Busters, Inc.
Office Phone: 215-635-4700
Office Hours: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM (EST)
The Slow Walk to Heaven - Battling Alzheimer's
By Dorothy Preston
It's never easy letting go of our loved ones, even when they have been struggling for years with a debilitating condition-even if we say it was a "blessing" it is still never easy saying goodbye.
Marilyn, my mother-in-law, was only seventy-five, but she'd had Alzheimer's for almost three years now, and it progressed very rapidly. I'm told that one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's dementia. That's 10% of the population over 65.
My husband, Peter visited his mother at the nursing home every Sunday, and he often came home with a few funny stories to share. We both knew they weren't really funny... but sometimes we couldn't help but chuckle.
Sometimes his mother recognized him, and sometimes she just talked nonsense, but she was always nice to him. There were stories, though, about her being not so nice to the nurses, so when Peter asked me to go with him, I was sometimes afraid. I was afraid that she'd yell at me and say something hurtful, but I knew it was time I visited, so one day we took a ride out to the nursing home. I hadn't seen her in over a year, and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. She was half the size she'd been the last time I'd seen her, and she could no longer walk. The shock of it took my breath away, and I had to leave the room to compose myself. As I re-entered the room, I walked by Marilyn's roommate, Phyllis. "You're a pretty girl," she said with a smile, then went back to fussing over the clothing laid out on her bed. I later learned that was what she "did."
Peter held his mother's hand and spoke gently to her, and she looked at him and called him "Dad." It wasn't until the nurse entered the room that she noticed me. She looked at me, then whispered to Peter, "How old is she?"
"Oh, she doesn't like me to tell her age, Mum. Let's just say she's a little older than me!" Peter said.
She seemed oddly suspicious of me, which was exactly what I had feared, but then she seemed to drift away. Because of the Alzheimer's, I didn't know her well, but I knew she was a strong and resilient woman who had raised three wonderful children with kind and generous hearts, and that spoke volumes about the person I never truly got to know.
Sadly, that was the last time I saw her awake and speaking.
As we left the nursing home, we saw a man standing at the front desk. "I am a U.S. citizen. I am a free man. All I want to do is go out for some air," he said. I wanted to take his arm and bring him outside, but instead we punched in the door code to leave.
"Don't ever put me in one of these places," I told my husband. "I know they're here for their own good, but the idea of losing my freedom is too much."
I got the call Friday afternoon. "Mom's not doing well," Peter said. It was just last week we were told that she wouldn't make it through the weekend, so we cancelled our plans, but then she got better. My gut told me this was not the case now, so I made a beeline to the nursing home. Peter's sister saw the tears in my eyes as I looked down at their mother, and she came over to hug me. Her husband and Peter's brother sat sadly nearby, and their aunt and cousin sat off to one side. When the nurse told us Marilyn's temperature was up to 107 degrees, we all knew this was it, but Marilyn hung on as we sat by her bedside. "She's always been a tough cookie, haven't you, Mum?" Peter's sister said, tears welling up in her eyes as she gently stroked her mother's hand.
Just then, Phyllis, the roommate, entered the room and began rummaging through her closet. I could hear her naming each thing. "That's mine, that's not mine... Oh, I don't like it when they take my things," she muttered.
"She's always accusing us of stealing one of her slippers," Peter's brother whispered. "I keep thinking I should actually take it and give her something real to complain about," he laughed. Phyllis's after-dinner ritual was to come into the room and rummage through her closet.
It's a conundrum, Alzheimer's is. Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or to cry. We know its victims are suffering a terrible fate, but it's hard not to laugh about the things they say or do.
Peter's sister encouraged us to take a dinner break. "This could go on all night. You should go get something to eat," she said. We offered to bring food back, and asked his brother to come along, but he declined. We walked out along with Peter's aunt.
"Sometimes they wait until everyone is gone before they let go," she said. "So maybe it's best if there are fewer people in the room."
We drove to a nearby Italian restaurant and ordered some food at the bar. Just as we were finishing up, Peter received a text that Marilyn had died. We quickly got the check and ran back to the nursing home.
There was an odd sense of relief in the room. We all hugged and cried over Marilyn as we waited for the funeral home director to arrive. I knew I had bonded with Peter's sister that night, yet I was stricken with guilt that I had pulled Peter away from his mother's deathbed. I knew he never would have left to get dinner had I not been there, but I was somewhat consoled by the idea that perhaps she waited until he left to let go
Afterward, I convinced Peter to write something about his mom to read at her service. He was concerned he wouldn't make it through without breaking down, but he wrote it nonetheless. And so it was, after days of preparation and calling hours, we stood under the canopy of our grief to say goodbye to Marilyn. We gathered around as Peter bravely told a few light-hearted stories about his mother, bringing wistful smiles to everyone's faces. He made it right to the end and only broke down on his closing statement.
At the conclusion of the service, Peter's eldest son, who was profoundly close to his grandmother, sang "I Will Follow You Into the Dark."
Love of mine, someday you will die
But I'll be close behind and I'll follow you into the dark
No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight, waiting for the hint of a spark
If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark... The time for sleep is now
But it's nothing to cry about
'Cause we'll hold each other soon in the blackest of rooms
There was not a dry eye to be seen.
I like to think that Marilyn is dancing up in heaven now and no longer in pain or confused. Somehow convincing ourselves of such things helps to ease the pain of losing a loved one.
CDC Initiative Reports Decline in Death Rates from Diseases That Disparately Plague African-Americans
By Jane Kennedy
The Partnering4Health initiative aimed to improve health in family members of every age. - PHOTO: CDC
Diseases resulting from tobacco use, obesity, and diabetes; plus heart disease and stroke. These are some of the leading causes of death among African-Americans, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The racial disparities are vast between Blacks and Whites when comparing the prevalence of these diseases and the death rates. Closing the gap has been difficult. But, over the past three years, the CDC has funded and facilitated the activities of five community-based organizations aimed to reduce death from these conditions.
The initiative, titled "Partnering4Health", has not only shown success in preventing death, but provided new insight into community activities that significantly impact health outcomes, according to the Executive Summary of a recently released "white paper" on the results of the initiative.
"From 2014 to 2017, CDC provided five national organizations a total of $30 million to work with local communities and build their capacity for implementing sustainable changes that support healthy communities and lifestyles," the report describes. "The overall goal of CDC's funding was to implement, evaluate, and disseminate evidence- and practice-based community health activities that promote health equity."
In a nutshell, the CDC's Division of Community Health selected three national organizations to work with their existing regional or local affiliates, chapters, or members. The three organizations were the American Heart Association (AHA), American Planning Association (APA), and the National WIC Association (NWA). Those three organizations "provided 97 funding awards to 94 communities and their cohorts." The additional two national organizations funded were the Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), both of which provided training, communication support, and technical assistance to the project.
"The funding supported the communities' work toward [policy, systems and environmental] changes that would increase access to smoke-free environments, healthier foods and beverages, physical activity opportunities, as well as overall chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and management initiatives," the Executive Summary states.
The three-year-initiative yielded the following successes, the report states:
* A 5 percent reduction in the rate of death and disability due to tobacco use
* A 3 percent reduction in the prevalence of obesity
* And a 3 percent reduction in the rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The community-based strategies largely involved creative ways to communicate and increase awareness about tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and lack of access to chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, or management. Through the use of their newsletters, websites, email blasts, conferences, forums, and existing publications, they reached their members, chapters/affiliates, partners, stakeholders, decision makers and other audiences. They also distributed CDC media messages and public service announcements to key audiences.
The mission of reversing negative behaviors largely through health education and awareness was daunting because of the prevalence of the unhealthy behavior.
"Health risk behaviors cause much of the chronic diseases prevalent in our society today. Tobacco use, the lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition are three behaviors that can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, says Doreleena Sammons Hackett, executive director of DHPE. "These unhealthy behaviors can be corrected, once started. But more importantly they are preventable. Obesity is one of the most serious health concerns as it can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and certain cancers."
According to the CDC, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese. That includes about one in six youths (17%) aged 2 to 19 years.
Health experts have also acknowledged that the lack of walkable space and safe streets/neighborhoods also contribute to these conditions as well as the lack of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The availability of tobacco and alcohol in resource-poor communities where fast food chains are the cheapest and quickest option for meals compound the issue.
The report recommends that making a few changes in society and in personal lives can make a difference.
"The 94 funded communities made remarkable strides in improving access to healthier opportunities where people live, work, and play," the report states. It also outlined the following detailed results:
* More than 16 million people in communities throughout the United States now have more access to nutritious foods, physical activity, smoke-free environments, and/or clinical preventive services.
* Residents of 74 communities now have more access to healthy food and beverage options sold at corner stores, vending machines, mobile food trucks, farmers markets, or by planting new community gardens.
* More farmers markets and other sources of fresh produce in those communities now accept food stamps and WIC vouchers, making healthy food more available and affordable to those with low incomes.
* Residents of 36 communities have more opportunities for physical activity through the creation of bike- and walker-friendly spaces, strengthening of school physical education, addition of worksite wellness sites, and/or new shared use agreements that allowed the public access to unused facilities such as after-hours school gymnasiums or tracks.
* People in six communities have more smoke-free parks, housing, or other environments.
* Mothers of young children in 29 communities can take advantage of breastfeeding-friendly environments and better links to health care professionals and community resources that promote healthy lifestyles.
The initiative aimed to impact chronic diseases in areas where they are most debilitating, where they are diagnosed later, and where the diseases are "associated with worse outcomes in racial/ethnic minorities and low-income individuals, which affects the health of communities overall."
Overall, the initiative was deemed to have been a major success:
"True to its name, the Partnering4Health project showed that a model of supporting healthier communities by working with and through national organizations is a viable way to leverage resources and build capacity at both the local and national levels," the white paper concludes. "After this promising start, it has great future potential for reaching even more communities."
The results of the initiative not only has a national impact, but the benefits can be felt worldwide.
"The cost of chronic diseases in the US and the world far outweigh the cost of prevention," says Hackett, DHPE executive director. "Promoting physical activity in our most vulnerable populations, the very young and the very old, can lead to longer healthier lives.
Involving the community in healthy endeavors promotes unity while improving health. Community gardens, for example, can be started in schools, senior centers, vacant lots, donated land, window boxes, etc. by almost anyone. This can occur in urban and rural areas around the world."
Hackett concludes, "Because the United States is emulated in the rest of the world, changing our habits and behaviors towards good health can make positive changes in the rest of the World."
Now that the three-year initiative has ended, the challenge will now be to sustain the results and continue to spread the education. The information is still available for use.
"To ensure that community agencies, faith-based organizations and health advocates interested in improving the health of their communities have access to the resources from the Partnering4Health initiative, the White Paper and other resources, such as an online course of sustainability of community health efforts have been posted to a new website - www.Partnering4Health.org," said Thometta Cozart, DHPE's Partnering4Health communications manager.
Partnering4Health.org actually logs the lessons learned from the community health project and makes them available to the general public. Organizers hope the website - which includes snapshots of the projects, an online training course, an inspiring video story, and loads of resources and materials - will give communities tools in the future to continue to build and nurture healthier communities and lifestyle.
"The bottom line is that people need healthier choices where they live, work and play. And when you get the right people at the table and connect them partners and organizations with similar goals, you can do some amazing things," says Cheryl Welbeck, project director of DHPE's Partnering4Health.
The training course has benefits beyond health. It will also impart valuable lessons on ways to strengthen coalitions for any worthy cause, says LaQueisa Haynes-Smith, training and e-learning consultant.
Haynes-Smith concludes, "Those who complete the course will gain valuable insight on enhancing the sustainability of coalitions. They will also be able to leverage the lessons learned and shared by Partnering4Health communities from interviews that identify a range of suggested sustainability approaches."
Are Your Everyday Cleaning Products Putting You at Risk for Autoimmune-Related Health Problems?
By Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories
New Health Promotion Website and Resources for Chronic Disease Prevention
Legacy and Lessons Learned from Partnering4Health® Project Will Help Build Additional Healthy Communities
A new website, available at Partnering4Health.org, logs the lessons learned from a grant-funded community health project that improved the health of more than 20 million people in 94 communities across the United States over the last three years.
Organizers hope the website - which includes a comprehensive report, snapshots of the local community projects, an online training course, an inspiring video story, toolkits, and loads of other materials - will assist other communities to decrease the risks of chronic diseases and improve the public's health.
From 2014 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided five national organizations funding to work with 94 urban, rural, and tribal communities for implementing sustainable changes that support healthy communities and lifestyles.
The website incorporates resources from the project and five national organizations - American Heart Association (AHA), American Planning Association (APA), National WIC Association (NWA), Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). The initiative addressed issues such as exposure to secondhand smoke, access to healthy food and beverages, improved physical activity opportunities, and linking citizens to clinical and community supports.
"With this new website, the lessons learned and investment in the Partnering4HealthÂ® project continues even though the grant has ended," said Elaine Auld, CEO of SOPHE.
"Other communities can learn from the three-year summary report, access an online sustainability course and toolkit, and adapt the infographics and advertising materials. These resources will help other coalitions get off the ground faster in planning, implementing and evaluating their healthy communities efforts."
A nine-part online course allows users to review key elements for sustaining the healthy community movement, by including evidence-based planning approaches to policy, systems and environmental change. The course, which can be completed in 1.5 hours or less, includes engaging videos, interactive activities at the end of each topic, and a course evaluation. A companion toolkit, "Partnering4HealthÂ® Approaches to Sustaining Healthy Communities: A Toolkit for Supporting Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change Initiatives," provides templates that community organizers can use to develop a sustainable community action plan. "We wanted to provide a sustainability course that showcases how organizations can provide ongoing support to sustain health community efforts," said DHPE Consultant LaQueisa Haynes-Smith, MS, MCHES.
"We hope that those who are involved in healthy communities' work will take advantage of this engaging eLearning course by completing the course and gaining valuable insight to sustain coalitions and leverage the lessons learned by Partnering4Health communities."
The website includes a searchable database of success stories. For example, if a town wants to create a more walkable community, organizers could search the database for traffic calming, and find project information and links to resources, including a guide on traffic calming.
Infographics and advertising materials on the site can be adapted and used by coalitions to support healthy eating, physical activity, community improvements that support healthier lifestyles, and much more.
Get more information and view the website at Partnering4Health.org.