Acoustic Trauma from Unexpected AR-15 Gunfire — Tinnitus, Ear Fullness, Distortion, & Hyperacusis

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by samatx, Apr 7, 2022.

    1. samatx

      samatx Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Gun Shot
      Hi all. As of writing this I am horrified for my future but it feels like the people around me don't recognize how vulnerable of a place I am in. I have already struggled with chronic health conditions and depression/anxiety for years, but only as of the last couple of months I've finally gotten to a good place. Great job I love, incredible partner, living in my favorite city on earth and doing the things I love.

      On April 1, I went to a ranch where my Dad and brother were staying for a hunt. They are avid hunters, but I am not - I just went to spend time with family after a long two years of not seeing them due to distance and COVID-19. I always use hearing protection, and was sure to bring it in case of gunfire. But at one point we were walking outside, and someone to my right unexpectedly saw a critter of some sort in the woods and thought it necessary enough to fire their AR-15 (I know - why does anyone even have those anyway) right next to my ear. I was able to block my right ear with my finger but as I was holding something in my left I wasn't able to protect my left ear.

      This resulted in immediate acoustic trauma - ringing, fullness, pressure, and temporary hearing loss - in my left ear. I knew it was bad but had no idea how bad it would get. Almost week out, I now have loud ringing 24/7, intermittent fullness that worsens with sound exposure, distortion (high pitched tones are suddenly popping out of things that used to sound totally normal), and hyperacusis (everything sounds like the volume is cranked up). Not to mention the panic and delirium. I feel like my life has been taken from me in an instant. I can't eat and can already feel my relationship with my partner struggling because I need so much support and it's compromising our healthy boundaries.

      I know it's naive to simply ask for affirmation that it's going to go away and get better because it might not. But how do I keep from giving up. I already crawled up from the brink of suicide and now I feel closer to it than ever. I have a few Valium pills from previous panic episodes, and they do help the anxiety, but I can't live on them as I know benzo withdrawal is its own animal. I am lost for words and am just trying to see a path forward for myself.
       
      • Hug Hug x 4
    2. Rockman

      Rockman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise, allergy
      Hello, I'm sorry this happened to you.

      I've read on here a quite a few success stories from acoustic trauma caused by gunfire. It does get better. Just continue to try and stay positive and protect your ears. Stay away from earbuds or headphones. Try everything you can to get good sleep.

      I hope for your quick recovery.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. FearsforEars

      FearsforEars Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      two heavy metal guys playing amazingly loud + me no plugs
      Hi man. Shitty. Sorry this moron did this to you.

      I have taken some comfort in knowing how many musicians have had this and still went on to deal with it. There are plenty of YouTube of people that have been on the brink but learned to accept some of it and treat it a bit with pink noise. It also seems to usually get better over time if your smart about it.

      I think maybe on option might be to get passionate about some visual art, writing, poetry or other things. It seems hopeless now but you need some time, you can really get better over time. Get some good ear plugs, try to not isolate yourself, get out and do as much has you can even if you have to skip loud stuff for a while.

      The list of popular musicians that have this is amazing. It is very common.

      These forums aren't always the best place as severe hyperacusis is pretty rare statistically, but of course some bad cases are out there posting, while the majority are not on here sharing their improvements.

      Many people that are disabled compensate in some way and get good at something. Try that for now, and maybe when this gets better you will have a new skill/career you didn't know was in you.

      You can still enjoy a walk in nature, your partner, all sorts of stuff. People with chronic pain are everywhere and there are people dying all around us of cancer or whatever, so you can have a bit of perspective. We can also consider this an annoyance no matter how intense it is, we still have lots left and there is always hope that any day now they will have a treatment, because why not?
       
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    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @samatx, and welcome to the forum.

      I understand how you feel but don't despair because noise-induced tinnitus usually improves with time. You are in the very early stages. Please click on the links below and read my posts: New to Tinnitus, What to Do? Tinnitus, A Personal View. If you are able to print them please do so and refer to them often. This way you will absorb and retain the information better than reading on a screen.

      I suggest that you do not listen to audio through any type of headphones even at low volume. This includes earbuds, AirPods and headsets, as there's a risk of making the tinnitus worse.

      Tinnitus can make a person feel stressed in the early stages so talk to your family doctor about this. Try to avoid being in a quiet room and surroundings during the day and especially at night as this can make the brain focus more on the tinnitus. It is a good idea to use low level sound enrichment, more about this is explained in the links below.

      All the best,
      Michael.

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
      • Like Like x 1
    5. VeryUnfortunate
      Stressed

      VeryUnfortunate Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Although it is a little over a week, you may still be in the time period for steroids. You also have hearing loss, so that kind of indicates the use of steroids. Ask your ENT or doctor asap what they think and if they can prescribe it. It is one of the few things that can help hearing loss and maybe your tinnitus too. Beware the side effects of prednisone can be hard to handle, especially when you are pretty stressed out. Make sure to keep this in mind if you take it.
       
    6. CC_16

      CC_16 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Upper respiratory infection
      What other chronic conditions do you have? How old are you? Do you have the tinnitus in 1 or 2 ears?
       
    7. nogg
      Angry

      nogg Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1984
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Computer noise
      I would suggest that you isolate yourself (other than medical appointments) for a month, stay away from noise and sounds and give your ears a chance to heal. My advice is to refuse all tests that involve pumping noise or sounds into your ears, like ENTs often want to do. Additional trauma (even if minor like from everyday activities) can either make things worse or prevent healing. You know what caused the problem so there is no need for an MRI or other tests that check for tumors. Also, no TV, no music, no machines, no stores. Get some reading material and just chill. If you need to take time off from work to do that, then do so. After a time, then start to get back into normal life, but make liberal use of hearing protection.

      I would also get in touch with an audiologist that specializes in tinnitus and has experience with hyperacusis. Do it now since appointments can be booked months ahead.

      It won't be quick or easy, but things will most likely improve a lot over time, so hang on to that.
       
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    8. Bodycount2022
      Ape-like

      Bodycount2022 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      How are you doing today after the attack? I have very similar symptoms sadly.
       
      • Hug Hug x 2
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      samatx

      samatx Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Gun Shot
      Hi all - update after the weekend. Good news and bad news.

      The bad first - turns out the relationship strain I mentioned actually existed because my partner was cheating on me, lying about it, and upon confronting her left me after three years of an incredible relationship. So that is a whole different issue unrelated to the acoustic trauma but it is more to grieve and my mental health has dipped even lower than before.

      Now the good - the tinnitus loudness is noticeably lower and hyperacusis improved (but not gone). Whereas at the beginning of last week, even showers were unbearable noise-wise, I can now take them without discomfort and listen to music through speakers at a low volume. Some speaking voices are still too loud as well as clanking silverware, etc, but I have more confidence that it will continue to improve. I've also noticed that my anxiety about sounds being too loud is EXTREMELY tied to my experience of them. When I tense my facial muscles and mind in expectation of noise being too loud it immediately creates discomfort and my experience of the sound is louder than if I don't. Spending less time on these forums and working with an audiologist that specializes in tinnitus and hyperacusis - listening to her advice rather than that of those online - has helped considerably.

      It has been 9 days since the gun shot, so still very early. I feel positive that if this much improvement occurred over one week (even with all the life stress which is probably making it worse), I can still recover over time.
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      samatx

      samatx Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Gun Shot
      Still only 25! I was able to protect my right ear so no ringing there, the tinnitus is only in the left ear. The sensitivity to noise and aural fullness are in both ears though.
       
    11. Juan

      Juan Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      Try to get a doctor prescription for Prednisone ASAP. It might help with your noise trauma. It is not too late...
       
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