Computers and Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Nov 19, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      This topic has caused much discussion on tinnitus forums whenever it is mentioned. Some people refuse to believe that using a computer can make tinnitus worse, while others are more open minded about the issue. Then there are those that agree with me that using a computer can make tinnitus worse for some people, due to the EMF (electro magnetic field) that all computers emit.

      I believe it would help if I explain the way near field computer use affects me, and the steps I’ve taken to reduce my exposure to computer EMF. IF anyone decides to try my suggestions their life might become a little easier.

      In 2008 my tinnitus became increasingly worse for reasons I’m not quite sure, as I’m usually careful about being around loud sounds. One evening I was listening to a favourite symphony on my HI-FI and enjoying quite a lot turned the volume up but didn’t notice any adverse effects. It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed my tinnitus begin to increase. This continued over the next two weeks and times it was excruciating. I needed help, as there were no signs of it reducing to its previous levels.

      After various tests at ENT I was referred to a Hearing Therapist and began TRT for the second time in eleven years. I didn’t know at the time that my tinnitus would change so dramatically and affect my life for nearly five years. For two years I was unable to read a book and using a computer was a definite no. Every time I tried within a few minutes my tinnitus increased to unbearable levels that would last for days.

      At the time I knew nothing about the effects of EMF from computers but was convinced it was causing my tinnitus to increase every time I used it. I spoke with two electronic engineers that also have tinnitus and told them about my problem. They mentioned some people with tinnitus are sensitive to EMF that a computer emits. I was advised to move my PC into another room and use a: wireless keyboard, mouse and external monitor. I was prepared to try anything so bought the relevant cables, wireless keyboard and used a TV as a monitor.

      The advice that I’d been given worked for I was able to use my computer without my tinnitus becoming louder. Six years on, the computer base unit is still in another room and I use a wireless keyboard, mouse and external monitor. I also have a laptop. On many occasions, I have tried using it in the conventional way to make sure my symptoms were not psychosomatic. Each time my tinnitus becomes worse within an hour or two. I have persisted and the tinnitus reaches such unbearably levels I have to switch it off. I have passed on my experience to others that were having difficulty with their tinnitus and also use a computer. Some people have noticed an improvement after trying my suggestion, or reducing the time they’re at the computer.

      When I saw my hearing therapist in clinic, I told her what I’d done with my PC, and explained the effects of computers and EMF. That it can make tinnitus worse for some people. I was informed no other patients had mentioned it. I didn’t pursue the matter any further and let it rest. Around four weeks later I returned to clinic as part of my TRT treatment. It was then explained to me that a few of her patients had talked about noticing an increase in their tinnitus whenever using the computer.

      Michael
       
      • Informative Informative x 3
      • Like Like x 1
      • Winner Winner x 1
    2. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I mean, no offense, but we just can't be reliable witnesses of our own experience... everything you're reporting is very subjective. To the extent that computer use is correlated with tinnitus, I would be much quicker to blame posture/ergonomic issues.

      There are metabolic effects of usual EMF exposure -- a good number of animal studies have borne that out. But, no one has been able to connect any of this to subjective symptoms in humans, and a number of studies have tried to do just that.

      You should at least try to put better numbers around this -- buy a (good) EMF meter, and take a look at the field strength with and without your modifications, and try to see if your mods are actually doing much... a wireless keyboard probably exposes you to more EMFs. (I have actually done this, used a good meter around my home/work/city -- and EMF exposure from computer use is pretty low down the list, microwaves are much, much worse).

      The other thing you should do, is use a high-fidelity audio meter around your computer, to make sure that it's not actually creating a noise that's spiking your T -- many modern computers will create some amount of audio in the 12-16khz range as a result of drives spinning and the like. It's quiet, mostly people ignore it (or aren't even capable of consciously perceiving it), but based on having studied this as extensively as possible, I think it's a lot more likely that tinnitus increase from computer use is a result of reactivity to constant high frequency noise, than EMFs. Note that you improved when you moved away from the PC proximately... but you're still bathing in EMFs, because you're using a wireless keyboard.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. dboy
      Jaded

      dboy Member Benefactor

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2007 & 8/2013
      When my initial (mild) tinnitus started in 2007 I was using a computer a lot and at the time thought the fan noise might have played a role (not too loud, but persistent over time) - although a very loud gig a few weeks before seems likely too. After that, the fan noise bothered me so I then built a very quiet PC with a SSD and mostly passive cooling (only one very quiet fan). I wasn't sure if it still had a bit of an effect on the tinnitus though... I thought maybe it did sometimes.

      When that PC died about a year ago I decided not to replace it and now just use a Windows tablet ('Linx 10'). This is completely quiet/passively cooled, but also runs on much lower power, so a solution like this might be useful for you. I find it a tiny bit slow doing photo editing in Lightroom, but absolutely fine for web browsing, word processing, etc. Right now I have it hooked up to a monitor, mouse and keyboard to use just like a PC, but it is also great to unplug and lie on the settee reading The Guardian/Tinnitus Talk/whatever. I am fairly certain that there is no effect on my t now, but could not say whether this is due to the completely passive cooling or the much lower power of the system (I tend to think the first, but am open minded).
       
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Linerb,
      I would like to reply and say: please read the opening paragraph of my post which I shall paste below for your convenience. And will further add that tinnitus comes in many forms and no two people experience it the same. I have one of the most severe forms according to my Audiovestibular consultant and shan't be commenting further:

      This topic has caused much discussion on tinnitus forums whenever it is mentioned. Some people refuse to believe that using a computer can make tinnitus worse, while others are more open minded about the issue. Then there are those that agree with me that using a computer can make tinnitus worse for some people, due to the EMF (electro magnetic field) that all computers emit
      .

      dboy,
      I am pleased to hear your tinnitus has improved and I hope it continues....
      Michael
       
    5. dboy
      Jaded

      dboy Member Benefactor

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2007 & 8/2013
      Thanks, although my tinnitus is not improved (much worse than it was when it started). I just never feel that computer use aggravates it since switching to the tablet.
      Please don't be put out by what linearb wrote. He meant no offence as he said - he is just rather knowledgeable and has strong opinions which he states in a forthright way. I think his post was only intended to be helpful. :)
       
    6. Bertman
      No Mood

      Bertman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      concert
      is this the same thing that older TV's emit. I'm on my laptop a lot and it doesn't bother me at all but as soon as I'm around an old tv my T reacts with it like crazy.
       
    7. Sound Wave
      Curious

      Sound Wave Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably headphones
      Computers do not cause T. However, using computers may have an affect on T, because of sitting still long periods in bad posture -> neck and shoulder issues -> tinnitus.
       
    8. dboy
      Jaded

      dboy Member Benefactor

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2007 & 8/2013
      I don't mean to be argumentative, but it is surely difficult to be completely certain. If someone is exposed to a constant noise for many hours everyday, then I would not be surprised if brain plasticity could not have some kind of effect that caused t. And aggravating t (which I think the OP was referring to) as opposed to causing it in the first place seems even more plausible.

      I am on the fence as regards EMF's. Microwave ovens might cause higher fields, but nobody sits next to a microwave oven cooking away for 8 hours a day. :)
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      dboy,
      On the contrary, I am not offendid by Linearb's comments for we are all entitled to voice our opinion. I am also quite knowledgeable about tinnitus having had it for over twenty years and counselled many people with the condition. Indeed, I believe it is only people that have our condition can ulitimately, understand, empathise and give advice to those that are having a difficult time with their tinnitus.

      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 1
    10. Jimmie
      Alone

      Jimmie Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      I would not take this to heart what so ever to be honest.
      There is 0 proof about a computer making T worse.

      There can be so many other things that actually happen.
      1. If you have a computer with coilwhine (google it if you have no idea what it is), or fans that emit a higher frequency sound etc.
      2. You sit at the computer. Bad posture, neck,back,shoulder stiffness etc is proven to effect tinnitus in one way or another.

      If you want to take placebo or a small sample size then I can say that everyone I know with T have no effect sitting next to electronics. Their posture might effect it from stiff neck etc. But not the electronics itself.

      Now, IF you have a piece of electronic that emits a high pitches noise, then yes sure that might effect you. But that is your own fault and can be fixed easy.

      Readin TT is funny, it seems everything in the world makes T worse and you should just live in a plastic bubble without sound for the rest of your life.

      No caffeine, no headphones, no electronics, no going outside.

      To be honest, visiting this forum makes T worse most times, that is more proven then any of this.
      Only the success page is worth visiting from now on.
       
      • Like Like x 2
    11. dboy
      Jaded

      dboy Member Benefactor

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2007 & 8/2013
    12. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      Hey, I did read the whole post the first time :) I guess I would also say that I'm more or less open minded, in that, I have spent a lot of time looking into metabolic effects of EMFs, and I think it's pretty inescapable that they do have effects on the nervous system at concentrations which are commonly found in the modern world.

      So, yes, that's a new thing which wasn't the case 50 years ago -- but over the same time frame, there has also been an explosion of completely novel organic molecules as a result of chemical and industrial pioneering. Many of these things are known endocrine disruptors. So, there's a lot of stuff out there affecting us which wasn't there in 1950, and it becomes harder and harder to separate out one thing from another.

      With that in mind, I think we just need to be very careful about confirmation bias, and the inherent perils in small-sample size data of any kind. So, you're convinced that being in close proximity to your computer has a negative effect on your tinnitus, and it sounds like you're further convinced that the explanation for this is that it's putting out a lot of EMFs. My point was that even if the first part of that is completely accurate, you would have to do a bunch of information-gathering to point to EMFs as a causal factor, starting with acoustic isolation of the computer, as well as probing to see how much EM is actually coming off your computer, and how that relates to background levels and other EM sources in your environment. And, I'm not completely talking out my ass here; in addition to everything I've read about this, I spent quite a while assessing EM levels in the world around me from computers to microwaves to TVs, etc.

      I absolutely do not refuse to believe that there's a possible connection; I have spent a lot of time thinking about what the mechanism for such a thing might be. Electrosensitive neurons are known to exist in a wide variety of animal life, and I've seen intelligent speculation that this may be the case in higher mammals as well. So, if anything, I am fascinated by the idea -- I just think that if there's an effect, it's subtle enough that it has so far resisted efforts to pin it down in a lab setting.

      The main thing which convinced me that there was no major connection between my own tinnitus and EMFs, was spending a period of time in the Radio Free Zone in West Virginia, and observing no change whatsoever in my T. I think anyone who is really curious about this should just do something similar; if EMFs are really having a deleterious effect on your health, you would want to consider putting a serious effort into shielding yourself from them.
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • Agree Agree x 1
    13. Sailboardman
      Frustrated

      Sailboardman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/21/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Sensorineural hearing loss right ear.
      As I understand it, everything emits EMF. The sun, the earth, plants, rocks, etc. It's the levels that can be dangerous to humans. These levels are measured in milliguass. 2 milliguass, is considered safe for adults, 1 milliguass is safe for seniors, children and pregnant women.

      Basically, it's almost impossible to completely avoid sources of EMF emission, unless you're living in a completely EMF shielded structure.

      As Linearb suggests, invest in a good EMF detector and you'll be surprised, at how much EMF is bombarding your body, on a regular basis. You may find that your computer is generating less EMF, than the electrical wiring, that's running throughout your home.
       
    14. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      Yup, that's my view, you nailed it -- though to play devil's advocate for a moment, there's a huge spectrum of energy that encompasses the EM band, and stuff like the sun and cosmic rays etc are well outside of the range where we find LTE networks, wifi, etc. So, it's definitely not impossible that different wavelengths have different effects... an extreme example of that is the moderately carcinogenic X-Ray band, vs the super carcinogenic Gamma Ray band.

      I guess the question is, does shielding oneself from some part of the EM spectrum have health effects, and if so, do those include less tinnitus. I think it's pretty unlikely to be a factor in most tinnitus cases, but it's interesting subject matter for sure.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    15. p.williams

      p.williams Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2005
      I can only speak for myself as I have no scientific knowledge of the subject = let me explain.
      I have suffered from 'high frequency' tinnitus, for about ten years now but about a fortnight ago, my fifteen month old dell inspiron computer started making a noise that I can only describe as 'yowling' that I traced to the power supply unit -I disabled it's fan but the sound , present on start-up and intermittent thereafter, continued . since then, I have had this sound as a second level tinnitus which becomes louder after I have used the pc.
      think that the computer noise has somehow set up a resonance on my audio ? nerve, as this new level of tinnitus is only heard on my right ear, the side where my computer 'lives'
      as I have used computers since the 1980's I don't feel that electronic radiation could possibly be the cause.
       
    16. stophiss

      stophiss Member

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      too full a life
      Yeah but Michael...if we test your thesis and everybody stops using their computer, then we can no longer communicate with one another to let one another know if it helped our tinnitus. If we increase phone usage, we will contract a higher percentage of cancer due to EMI which may even be worse.
      ;);)
      Having some fun with you. I am in the camp that computer usage unless the Monitor and CPU are close to your head has little EMI effect but no doubt, less EMI is better for each of us.

      FWIW, I built my personal daily computer from components...I am a science guy...and did so with the intent for greater sound shielding and as low a sound signature as possible.
       
    17. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      I don't want everybody to stop using their computer. Perhaps as a test, they could reduce their computer use. My tinnitus can be quite severe. Since 2008 when it got worse I have been unable to use a computer as normal and have to have the base unit in another room and use a wireless keyboard, mouse and monitor.

      Whether it's EMF or the noise from the internal hard I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I know other people with tinnitus that are affected by near-field computer use. As I type my tinnitus is so quiet I could hear a pin drop, and it feels so strange. I am not a fan of silence having used sound enrichment for so long. So, I put my white noise generators on and set the volume very or or have my sound machine playing in the background.

      Michael
       
    18. GregCA
      Frustrated

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      This thread does remind me of the "Don't use headphones" threads/posts.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    19. Tom Cnyc

      Tom Cnyc Member

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Warehouse event after years of enjoying music.

      Aren't you on a break? ;)
       
    20. gotyoubynuts

      gotyoubynuts Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      He posted that November 19, 2015...
       
    21. Tom Cnyc

      Tom Cnyc Member

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Warehouse event after years of enjoying music.
      #Fail. lol

      when multi-tasking goes wrong
       
    22. stophiss

      stophiss Member

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      too full a life
      Will simply share my opinion and you know I have great respect for yours.
      To me, computer EMI has little influence on tinnitus. You touched on what could have an influence on tinnitus however. Those with reactive tinnitus could be influenced by the sound signature of a desktop or laptop. Reality is, production, off the shelf computers and some laptops are loud. Some are downright raucous. In fact, that and a number of other performance metrics is why I built a customer computer. One of the overarching boundary conditions was...I wanted as close to a dead silent computer as possible...even with multiple hard drives.

      Three principle things make a desktop computer noisy.
      a. Hard Drive...most generally have just one...I have three. Higher end computers are now evolving to Solid State Drives which have no moving parts versus a rotating platen like most hard drives which can make a fair amount of noise based upon case acoustics and mounting scheme.
      b. Fans. Fans provide cooling. If you have a high performance computer, best to have multiple fans. Fans make noise. Some fans are noisier than others. Store bought computers many times have temperature sensing fan speed. Most know nothing about computer maintenance. Dust build up within computers....store bought computers generally don't have dust filtration either...dust builds up within which decreases air flow rate which increases fan speed to compensate based upon heat sensing. That is why older computers become louder aside from lower quality fans wearing out. Also, fan blade pitch, size and RPM all affect sound signature. Even bearing quality affects fan sound signature.
      b. Computer case acoustics. Most off the shelf computers are tin cans aka echo chambers. They magnify internal HD and fan noise.

      So, and again, my opinion, I don't throw computers or flat screen monitors under the bus for EMI. Rather, quite possible those with reactive tinnitus could be affected by a noisy computer. Some computers are quite noisy.
       
    23. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @stophiss You raise some valid and interesting points and thank you for airing them. Prior to 2008 computers noise didn't affect my tinnitus. When it increased for the 2nd time, requiring me to return to ENT for treatment, I had no hint of hyperacusis and still don't. The hyperacusis that I first had from 1996 until 98 was completely cured with the treatment I was having.

      As I have explained before. My hearing therapist and consultant haven't met someone with my type of tinnitus. Huge fluctuations in intensity. At the moment it is so quiet and I could wake up tomorrow morning and it's very severe. Quite strange and I have no idea what causes these large fluctuations from: complete silence, mild, moderate and severe. One thing is for sure, I have to keep away from computers otherwise it reaches an intensity that is quite unbearable.
      Thanks again for your comments.
      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 1
    24. Owen
      Disappointed

      Owen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unclear. Inflammatory allergic reaction/AIED
      In fairness, it is doubtful that I have met them, but you're not alone. My tinnitus can also be silent, severe and anything else in between.
       
    25. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      You are the first person that I've met with a similar tinnitus to mine Owen. It can be quite intrusive at times, just like it is now!
      Sorry to meet you under these circumstances.
      All the best
      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    26. Marlino
      Cowboy

      Marlino Member Team Research

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      Haha, that reminds me of Better call Saul.

      Actually I've met a guy in a tinnitus support group who stated the same: when he quit work where he was surrounded by computers he lost his tinnitus within 3 month. He was convinced it was due to EMF.

      Personally I think its very unlikely.
       
    27. Marlino
      Cowboy

      Marlino Member Team Research

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      If its really the case or not who cares, at least it gives you some control!

      Good luck buddy.
       
    28. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      You are one hundred percent correct and thank you .
      Best of luck with the audible tones.
      Michael
       

Share This Page

Loading...
If you have ringing ears then you've come to the right place. We are a friendly tinnitus support board, dedicated to helping you discuss and understand what tinnitus treatments may work for you.