Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Nov 17, 2021.

    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus?

      It is always pleases me when someone says they have habituated to tinnitus and able carry on with with their life, doing all the things they want to do and put closure to the difficulty they once had managing it. The hope is for tinnitus to become a distant memory and rarely discussed unless the subject comes up during a conversation. I believe most people affected with tinnitus can appreciate these ideals. Whilst this is splendid news my advice is to apply some caution after habituating and not be too eager or cavalier in throwing caution to the wind believing nothing can go wrong because it can. Unfortunately, this has happened to quite a few people that have contacted me after habituating to noise induced tinnitus.

      Although many things can cause tinnitus it is exposure to loud noise that is often responsible for its onset and will be my main focus of attention. After a year habituating to it, a person usually feels quite relaxed and completely at ease because it has reduced to such a low level or complete silence for most of the time. If headphones were the original cause of the tinnitus as often they are because of listening at too high a volume, the person feels confident to use them again but is mindful to keep the volume low. Going to venues where loud music is played always taking the precaution to wearing noise reducing earplugs or returning to playing a musical instrument in a band. This could be playing the drums or an electric guitar, some using custom moulded hearing protection. Each person will be different but on the whole this is way many of the people that have contacted me behave.

      At first everything seems to be going along nicely but at some point a change in the tinnitus takes place. Some people notice a gradual increase that is not too bothersome at first, while others experience a sudden spike that doesn't reduce. As the days and weeks progress the tinnitus intensifies, at its peak it erupts into a loud cacophony of noise, that has large fluctuations in intensity unlike anything they have previously experienced. The confidence that had been built up over many months during the habituation process, is stripped away and replaced with the belief they are unable to carry on, because their world has been turned completely upside down. A person can feel disillusioned and confused because they don't know what to do. It is then they ask: can I habituate again? To answer this question one must first understand what they are dealing with.

      Stress or an underlying medical condition including hearing loss, are not usually the cause for this cataclysmic change in the tinnitus, after a long habituation period but I won't rule them out. My own experience of it was caused by a second noise trauma and similar to those I have corresponded with that met a similar fate. After they explained their lifestyle and circumstances it become clear to me everything pointed to being exposed to loud noise, perhaps on more than one occasion or they returned to using headphones, earbuds or headsets with the belief keeping the volume low they will be safe but this is not necessarily true. I believe one or a combination of these things caused the tinnitus to return with such a vengeance and ferocity that is totally unpredictable and at times so cruel. It follows no set pattern that one can get used to because the intensity is extremely variable. It can be completely silent, mild, moderate, severe or very severe, making habituation difficult but I believe still achievable.

      Anyone affected with this type of tinnitus is likely to find it mentally and physically challenging at times, this can easily plant the seeds of doubt in the mind, as to whether life will ever return to some normality. It can and will but you need to believe that. It will take time so don't be too hard on yourself though the pace maybe slow. Take comfort in the fact that you have habituated before and will do so again. Tinnitus is an integral part of our mental and emotional well-being and cannot be separate from it. So it is here we must start the recovery process.

      Don't let difficulty stop you believing in the goals that you want to achieve. Focus on the positive things in life and this will help keep negativity at bay even in the downtimes. This doesn't mean never to feel negative or down about the way variable tinnitus affects you, particularly when having a good day then suddenly the next two or three days it reaches severe highs, medium and lows. Constantly changing leaving you second guessing what to expect next. This is the way it behaves, so try not to feel too dispirited as you ride this roller-coaster of unpredictability. Things will get better by believing in yourself and not giving up. You may not be where you want to be but gradually, you will become stronger more resilient about all aspects of your life with positive thinking.

      Use sound enrichment during the day and especially at night. This will help treat the tinnitus and any oversensitivity that you may have. I strongly advise that you see an ENT doctor and tests are carried out on your auditory system. If there is no underlying medical condition causing the increase in the tinnitus, then I recommend seeing an Audiologist or Hearing Therapist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management. Various treatments are available that included: sound therapy using white noise generators, counselling, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, medication in the form of an antidepressant. I am not recommending any particular medicine that a person should take, because this is best discussed with your healthcare professional. However, I found Clonazepam very helpful as it helped reduce my tinnitus to more tolerable levels at times when it was excruciating. I was closely monitored by my doctor with the amount I was taking and suffered no complications with it. It was taken only when the tinnitus was severe and unrelenting.

      Variable tinnitus of the type that I have described is not common according to my ENT consultant and hearing therapist, but they have seen patients with it. Each person will experience it differently but they share some similarities. It will your test your mental resolve to the maximum. It is not easy to habituate to but it's possible, because I did even though it took four years.

      Michael
       
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    2. Marcuso22

      Marcuso22 Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud prolonged exposure to alarm system
      I & many others could only wish it would be completely silent. It's now over one year for me struggling with reactive tinnitus (tonal & atonal sounds that change in character from day to day) & hyperacusis & haven't had a full complete second of silence. Maybe a half of a second but not one full second.
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I know you are going through a lot of difficulty with variable tinnitus @Marcuso22 and you have my deepest sympathy. It can be ruthless and very unforgiving. I hope you are able to see an audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management and get some help. My tinnitus changed to variable in 2008 after a second noise trauma. I have corresponded with a lot of people that have this type of tinnitus. Although no two people will experience it the same, they do share similarities as mentioned in my original post. This type of tinnitus is unique, there are huge variations in intensity that is quite different to tinnitus that occasionally fluctuates. Medications of the type mentioned in my post, are often required to help manage variable tinnitus due to its severity.

      Take care.
      Michael
       
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    4. Flet
      Alienated

      Flet Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @Michael Leigh, is there a location where all of your "article type" posts are available/summarized?
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      All my articles are available in full on my started threads. Please click on my Avatar and then click on Find All Started Threads. I don't have a place where they are summarized.

      Michael
       
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    6. Flet
      Alienated

      Flet Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you. That is good enough for me to get me started. Much appreciated.
       
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    7. DaveFromChicago

      DaveFromChicago Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headcold/Flu
      As far as I'm concerned, that's like saying, "Cancer is an integral part of normal cell functioning and cannot be separate from it."
       
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