The Truth About Tinnitus Habituation: Deficient Sensory Gating Could Explain Why Many Tinnitus Victims Do Not Habituate

FACT #1: Some people habituate to their tinnitus.

FACT #2: Some people do not habituate to their tinnitus.

FACT #3: Some people believe that EVERYONE can habituate to their tinnitus.

FACT #4: Some people believe that IT IS YOUR FAULT if you are unable to habituate to your tinnitus… that you CHOOSE not to habituate… and the reason you have not habituated like the others, is because there is a problem with your personality… because you are unwilling to habituate… because you are pretending you cannot habituate… because you are trying to not habituate… because you are lying about your habituation… or because you are depressed or have psychological “issues”…

Yes, it sounds crazy… but some people really do hold these disturbing beliefs. Sadly, you don’t even need to look very far to find evidence of this attitude within the tinnitus community. People arguing over habituation, as if they have all the answers. Alas…

We might not have to worry about these habituation-pushers (enemy NPCs) for much longer. Because more and more researchers are starting to find clues that could soon confirm what many “non-habituated” people in the tinnitus community already know from personal experience: NOT EVERYONE CAN HABITUATE TO THEIR TINNITUS – and, importantly… the cause of this “habituation-proof subtype” of tinnitus (or patient) has nothing to do with the “reasons” mentioned above (which are not only unscientific and lazy, but insulting and destructive).

The real reasons some people do not habituate are almost certainly physiological (i.e. they can be traced back to a physical process, outside of your control and/or independent of your thoughts). What, exactly? We do not know yet. But… it appears that the science is starting to support the obvious: that people who do not habituate are NOT just stubborn or self-sabotaging or defective.

So, if YOU can’t habituate, don’t worry. The science is finally starting to confirm what you already knew. It is NOT your fault and it is NOT “all in your head” or imaginary.

Instead, there is probably a physiological cause. At least, that seems to be the big picture that is emerging from the newest studies. And the most recent of these studies, exploring the cause of habituation-proof tinnitus and/or patients, is from July 12, 2019. The title of the study is Toward An Exploration of Habituating to Tinnitus: Perspectives on Sensory Gating and it is from the the American Academy of Audiology.

Here is a link to this latest habituation-related study on PubMed:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31304914

You can read the abstract. The full paper is not yet available (the link to the journal site is appears to be broken or is not yet active).

Here is an excerpt:

The purpose of this study was to compare behavioral aspects of sensory gating in normal and tinnitus participants to search for the reason why some tinnitus participants habituate to their tinnitus but some others do not.

[…]

These results suggested that tinnitus associated with behavioral aspects of sensory gating and decompensated tinnitus may be a result of deficient sensory gating.

SOURCE:
PMID: 31304914 DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.18038

The next time someone argues about habituation or gives you a hard time, politely refer them to this recent study which explores deficient sensory gating as the reason why some people cannot habituate… or… you can also refer them to another recent study, previously mentioned on this website, which examines The potential role of auditory prediction error in preventing habituation to tinnitus.

And remember… if scientists can prove not all tinnitus patients can habituate… then groups/organizations such as the VA will be “forced” to seek other solutions – for all those patients who cannot be helped by habituation – and this could lead to more resources being put toward finding an ACTUAL cure. You never know!


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