After Many Years of Wearing Headphones for Work, I Developed Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Kieran66, Aug 25, 2022.

    1. Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Hello

      I'm Kieran. I'm 56. I work as a video editor which means I wear over-ear headphones all day in order to clearly hear the audio as I am editing. As I live in a small terraced house with poor soundproofing, I wear headphones when I want to listen to music. I also wear headphones when I want to watch TV after my wife has gone to bed. In short I spend a lot of my waking hours wearing headphones. I don't like to listen to things at a high volume but then the volume may be higher than I realise. If I am walking somewhere I sometimes put on earbuds and I probably have these louder than I realise in order to counter traffic noise. I also wear foam earplugs at night to cut out noise from the street outside. I am not on any medication and I don't want to go to the doctor as I find them generally useless.

      Just recently I have become aware of a continuous high tone in my head- very high pitched, almost ultrasonic, slightly fluctuating over time and 'metallic' feeling (if that makes any sense). It seems quite loud to me and of course I find it very annoying and worrying.

      My mother developed tinnitus after an operation and we thought it might have been the anaesthetic which caused it. She has never worn headphones. There is a lot of deafness in her family but her hearing is otherwise fine. Maybe her operation and my headphone usage are red herrings and its just a genetic hereditary thing. I don't know. but I'm not going to be wearing headphones or earplugs any more as a precaution.
      • I've only had it a few days and I'm just hoping it will go away - but is that realistic?
      • Is there any chance that it will disappear?
      • Is there a proportion of sufferers who recover (as opposed to getting acclimatised to it)?
      Thanks for any responses you can give.
       
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    2. Stuart-T
      Thinking

      Stuart-T Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear wax or COVID-19 infection
      Hello and welcome to the group.

      Sorry you are in this situation. As you rightly say - your headphone usage may not be a factor with the sound you are now hearing in your head though given what you describe - it may well be.

      My advice - go to an audiologist and have a hearing test and get your ear canals checked out for wax. Take matters from there. Of course in the meantime be careful with sound levels on your headphone usage.

      Yes it can clear at any time. It does happen, though I must say it seems to be fairly unusual.
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Thanks Stuart. In the past I have had waxy buildup in my ears which then caused my hearing to become muffled.

      I've had them syringed a few times and in the end I ended up getting my own syringe so that I could do it at home (using olive oil to soften the wax first) which I have done successfully. I was thinking of doing it again since getting my tinnitus even though my hearing isn't muffled. I think I will do so and report back if there's any change.

      I'll also consider going to an audiologist. Would I need to do that through a GP?

      EDIT:

      Ok I've just successfully syringed both my ears and after many blasts of water, I removed the earwax that was there. The weird thing is immediately after I did it, I thought that my tinnitus had gone. I wasn't aware of it - or at least I had to listen very hard to be aware of it. Disappointingly within about 10 minutes the tinnitus came back to normal volume. It sounds like a very high pitched electrical tone that you might hear from an old TV.
       
    4. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure about the first. Too many beers? Music during sleep.
      Hey Kieran,

      Welcome to the club no one wants to be in. :(

      Sorry to read you've developed tinnitus. What you describe sounds very similar to how I perceive my intrusive intrusive sound in my left ear (I actually have three sounds, but two are mild compared to that).

      There is a chance it can go away – I think that's something to keep with you and try not to loose hope. But the question if is is when. And there is work going on trying to fix it. The question there is also when that will happen.

      Like Stuart-T, I also suggest taking doing all the medical checkups in case it's related to something that can be treated. I did an MRI scan (there's a tiny risk there's a tumor involved says ENT's) and it was fine with earplugs and earmuffs, but I know some warn against that since it can be pretty loud.

      Another thing to think is that many get better over time, but it can take quite a long time. I guess the saying goes that many won't perceive the tinnitus as bad as in the beginning later on.

      Best wishes and you you feel better soon!
       
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    5. Stuart-T
      Thinking

      Stuart-T Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear wax or COVID-19 infection
      Go to Boots and book a hearing test. It is free.

      Make sure you get a printout.

      Be careful with that irrigator. I used an oral irrigator to do mine - I also noticed after a session with the irrigator the tinnitus seemed barely audible - and yes it came back just like you.
       
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    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Thanks for the good wishes and advice.

      I think I'll wait a week or two to see if there's any improvement before going down the scan route, but it's something to bear in mind. I've stopped wearing headphones and earbuds altogether now and hope that somehow my ears/brain can heal itself.

      I'll keep you posted. Cheers!
       
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @Kieran66.

      Listening to audio through headphones, earbuds, headsets, AirPods, noise cancelling and bone conduction headphones, is one of the most common causes of tinnitus, due to the volume having been set too loud or using these devices for too long a period without giving the ears sufficient rest.

      Since you have recently acquired tinnitus, my advice regrading treatment including making an appointment to have a hearing test is not to do it. The best thing that you can do in this very early stages of noise induced tinnitus, is to leave your ears alone as the tinnitus can easily be made worse!

      You will get the best help and long term aftercare for tinnitus under the NHS that no private treatment in the UK can match. Please click on the links below and read my threads: New to Tinnitus, What to Do? and Tinnitus, A Personal View. They explain the things a person needs to do in the early stages of tinnitus and what is likely to happen if your GP needs to refer you to a NHS hospital ENT clinic.

      I advise you not to listen to audio through any type of headphones even at low volume as you risk making the tinnitus worse. Try to avoid quiet rooms and surroundings especially at night by using low level sound enrichment, more about this is explained in the links.

      Please go to my started threads and read: Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? The Habituation Process, How to Habituate to Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, As I See It, Tinnitus and The Negative Mindset, Acquiring a Positive Mindset.

      Your tinnitus will improve with time but it's important to follow the advice that I have given. That is to leave your ears alone for now and not seek any treatment and not to use any type of headphones even at low volume.

      If you are experiencing acute pain in your ears, deafness, problems with your balance or dizziness, then speak to your GP.

      All the best,
      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Thank you Michael for your advice. It aligns with what I had intended which was to completely avoid headphones and earbuds and not take any further action for the time being to see how things go. I will study the links you have provided. Again thank you so much. I'm glad I found this place.
       
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    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You are welcome @Kieran66.

      The information in my links and the posts on my started threads are a lot to read. I suggest that print and refer to them often, rather than reading them on your phone or computer screen. This way you will absorb and retrain the information better.

      Your tinnitus may reduce to a low level or completely disappear within a few weeks or months and you might think about using your headphones. I strongly advise that you don't even at low volume. I explain the reasons in my articles. Please go to my started threads and read: Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus?

      Take care and wishing you all the best,
      Michael
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      A quick update for you.

      I woke up yesterday to find that my tinnitus had greatly reduced in volume. The high pitched tone which seemed to be right inside my head was greatly muted. I went into town and as I walked around the city centre I was aware of all the very noisy things I encountered such as buskers playing with their amps turned up very high and even the beeping of pedestrian crossings. I avoided these things as best I could lest they set it off again.

      Last night was a real test though as I went to a gig. I brought earplugs with me but in the end I didn't use them as it was not overly noisy and I was sitting well back from the stage in the balcony.

      When I woke this morning I was aware of a tone again but not as bad as before. It has since subdued and as I write this I am only aware of a very faint hiss/subdued tone sensation which I can easily live with. I'm not going to be complacent however, it could return at any time and as I believe my problem was caused by headphones, I doubt I shall ever use them again, even if it means having to turn down work.
       
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    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I am pleased that the tinnitus has reduced @Kieran66 as I believed that it would. This is not uncommon with noise induced tinnitus but please be warned, you are not out of the woods yet by a long chalk! If you subject yourself to overly loud sounds even when wearing earplugs or use any type of headphones even at low volume, you risk the tinnitus increasing to a level that you wouldn't believe is possible.

      I am telling you this so you don't make the same mistake I did and many others with this type of tinnitus. Follow the suggestions in my posts, and it's likely your tinnitus will remain low or completely disappear. Don't be fooled by this because the tinnitus is still there waiting in the background at a low level.

      Take care,
      Michael
       
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    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Thanks Michael. I'm taking nothing for granted. I know I could wake up tomorrow morning with it again. At the minute I'm not really aware of it unless I concentrate on it but I know it could flare up again and I want to avoid that at all costs. It may still come back anyway whatever I do to avoid it. I'm just taking it one day at a time.
       
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    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Remember to use low level sound enrichment @Kieran66, especially at night and not sleep in a quiet room. This is very important.

      Michael.
       
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    14. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Thanks Michael. Would an iPhone 's built in speaker be enough for the sound enrichment? I've been looking to find a suitable 'nature sounds' soundtrack but most contain birdsong which I think could trick my brain into thinking it's daytime and therefore disturb my sleep.

      What do you think of soundtracks like this one?

      Tinnitus Sound Therapy,Sound Enrichment
       
    15. Wrfortiscue
      Cowabunga

      Wrfortiscue Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Trauma
      Why is this bad? I have to do this at times because of how my reactive tones get vs the fan or whatever. I wake up ok.
       
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    16. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I have explained the importance for using sound enrichment many times in this forum and it should be used at night. It is explained in my thread: Tinnitus, A Personal View, look under the section Sound Machines. Click on the link below and read: Sound Machines and Tinnitus.

      A fan is not my ideal choice for sound enrichment as its volume cannot be adjusted. There is the risk of it masking or irritating the tinnitus and hyperacusis if it's present, therefore using a fan is not a good idea.

      Michael

      Sound Machines and Tinnitus | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    17. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I don't particularly like this sound @Kieran66, but if you find it suitable then use it. Downloading sounds to a mobile phone is fine. I recommend that it's Bluetoothed to an external speaker or docking station that has speakers, as the sound quality will be better rather than using the phone's onboard speaker.

      My first choice is to use a dedicated sound machine and recommend those from Sound Oasis. Their sound machines are specifically made for people with tinnitus. They can be used as a standalone unit by the bedside or connected to a pillow speaker for privacy. It takes time to get used to sound enrichment at night so be patient with it. Click on the link below and read my post: Sound Machines and Tinnitus.

      Michael

      Sound Machines and Tinnitus | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Kieran66

      Kieran66 Member

      Location:
      Cambridge, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphone usage (probably)
      Well I slept in a quiet room last night. The window was open to let in any street sounds but it's a pretty quiet street. I have tinnitus again this morning. Not the worst but definitely noticeable. I've been downloading a series of long soundtracks overnight and will try one tonight to see how it goes.
       
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