Do I Have Tinnitus? Racking My Brain on How I Have Gotten Here

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by JasonC, Feb 12, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Thanks in advance for taking the time to read through my story. My name is Jason and I am 34 years old, living in northern Ontario, Canada. A lot has happened in a short amount of time so I will do my best to recollect what has happened while it is fresh in my mind.

      Six days ago I was sitting down in my chair after I finished my afternoon errands, as I normally do. It is very cold up here and my water has frozen from the lake so the pump is out. When this happens days on end I notice a small amount of wax build-up in either ear. This must be normally cleaned our from the showers I take as I only notice the wax build-up when I haven't been able to shower like that. I was about to start a fire in the box stove and pulled out a match. I gently used the non-business end of the wooden match to clean out some wax out of both ears. There was no pain, no hearing loss and no discomfort associated with the cleaning. I did pull a small amount of wax out however. Nothing about this event was memorable, and it probably took 3-5 minutes total. Again, I did not stick the match very far in either ear as I am generally cautious about such things. I realize I should not have used a match or even a Q-tip (which I will on occassion).


      Long story short, within 10-15 minutes of cleaning my ears I began to notice a buzzing or ringing in my ears. I was confused as I had not experienced this since many years prior when I went to a rock concert and had the ringing for X days after while the healing took place internally. After 48 hours I went to see the doctor and told him my story, fearful that I had somehow done damage to my inner ears without noticing any pain. The doctor looked inside both ears and mentioned he did not see a large build-up of wax as the culprit, nor did he see any damage inside either ear. He went on to educate me as to how far I would have had to stick a Q-tip or match inside my ears to get to the inner ear where the nerve that is responsible for ringing is located. He finished with saying I would be in significant pain, could have hearing loss and there would be visible signs for him to see if I had indeed done any damage. He ended our meeting with a series of health questions surrounding diet and environment. Nothing has changed in my life that I can think of, other than the ringing starting in my ears 15 minutes after pulling a small amount of wax out. The final statement the doctor made was this ringing will likely go away in time and if I want to take this farther I can come in and have an audiologist take a look with a series of in-depth testing.


      Since I have seen the doctor I have noticed some changes in my life and I hope some of you here can give me some direction, comfort and reassurance on what the hell is going on with my life right now:


      - I am sensitive to loud noises all of the sudden. The phone ringing now irritates me and truly feels like the volume is 200% up.

      - It feels like I can even sense lower pitched sounds better however they do not irritate me

      - My balance has been off slightly. I will walk off-kilter for no reason or notice my timing is off ever so slightly compared to prior

      - I am tired all the time. This may be due to some anxiety over the change inside of me so I am not sure if this is simply a reaction

      - Loss of hunger. This may also be due to anxiety and I am now noticing my appetite slowly returning on Day #6




      The tone I hear isn't consistent, it sometimes changes levels if that makes sense. I am happy to report that for the most part I can go about my day normally as I tend to only notice the noise when I have pockets of dead space. Reading some of the stories on this forum, they are a carbon copy of my symptoms. How did this happen?

      I have no pain, hearing loss or visible damage in either ear, however I will verify this 100% when I have the audio testing completed. I did not insert the match very far to clean anything out so if its not damage then all I can think of is a bacterial infection from the match or a parasitical infection from the match. I find it odd that the sound started so soon after cleaning my ears though. At this point I am stumped. I read stories where someone gets a cold, car injury, or just wakes up one morning with this ailment and there is seemingly no cure. This obviously makes me anxious that this will be a permanent fixture in my life going forward.


      If you made it this far, thank you. I truly appreciate any input, observations or recommendations you can provide me with right now. There is a lot of confusion in my life currently as I attempt to make sense of this and cope with it. I find having some ambient noise works wonders however I do not want to have to work around this for the rest of my life, if possible.



      Thank you



      Jason
       
    2. RCP1
      Ape-like

      RCP1 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Dublin, Ireland
      Tinnitus Since:
      122014
      Hi Jason,

      The best thing you can do right now is deny that this is happening. Do not acknowledge the ringing at all. Do not think about it - Don't give it any time to consolidate itself within you.

      Try and minimise the experience - Tell yourself that this type of thing happens to most people at some poinbt and sorts itself out.

      The more you acknowledge it the more your brain will potentially keep replicating the sound. It is in your ear right now you don't want it consolidated in your brain...

      Ignore it and tell yourself it will diminish and there is nothing to worry about. You only have 1 shot at this so do your best to downplay it and ignore it.

      if I had known this when it happened to me I wouldnt have had to spend thousands on Tinnitus Retraining Therapy to minimise it 5 months later..

      Anyone can hear these sounds its not a big deal unless you make it a big deal.....

      Best of luck

      R
       
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    3. erik
      Breezy

      erik Manager Staff Benefactor

      Location:
      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      Hi Jason and welcome. It sounds to me that you have Hyperacusis which is hyper sensitivity to normal sounds. Like you, mine came on pretty suddenly, though I think I had always had some sound sensitivity for most of my life.

      On the flip side Hyperacusis is not normally permanent. It took time but slowly got better over time. Usually it is because there is some type of change or something that throws your hearing out of whack, such as slight loss of hearing or another issue. Hyperacusis is a symptom of this change in your brain. Over time your brain compensates, adapts and itself changes to the point where it is not as hypersensitive.

      Stay the course my friend, it will get better. In the meantime, search for Hyperacusis here on Tinnitus Talk and you can find some tips. I used a site called simplynoise daily which generates white noise and pink noise which is supposed to help with Hyperacusis. I did this for weeks. Not sure if it aided in the improvement I experienced but nonetheless I think it was beneficial.

      Also anxiety really plays into the loudness and irritation you get from Hyperacusis and Tinnitus. Work on strategies to get your anxiety into check and this will make a huge difference that you can benefit from sooner.
       
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    4. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      RCP1:


      Thank you for the prompt input, this place is already starting to have a positive impact on my mental state. You are very much on point when you make this out to be a mental exercise in keeping calm and taking control over the situation. Each successive day is becoming easier in this regard as I devout more time to educating myself on what might be happening and how I can work around it.


      I know you are not a doctor however what do you think the cause could be for mine? Logically I am relating the cleaning of my ears to this as the noise started so soon afterwards. I have cleaned my ears before though and even on occasion with a match and never had any issue. With the doctor not seeing any damage inside either ear I am left wondering if I am worrying over nothing when it comes to any damage to my inner ear?





      Erik - Thank you as well for sharing your story and giving me some starting points to work from. May I ask you the same question as RCP1, do you think there is a direct link to my cleaning my ears and the noise starting so soon after? Seeing the doctor smirk and not make a big deal of me cleaning my ears with a match-end, and also not finding any damage when he looked makes me think I may be focusing on the wrong cause for the change.

      Would seeing an Audiologist confirm I have Hyperacusis, and in your opinion could this have been triggered by what I did when I cleaned my ears? What makes you feel from my story that this is Hyperacusis versus Tinnitus? Please forgive my questions, I am simply curious and you appear to have knowledge and experienced in the area so I'd love to hear your thoughts. I hope you are right if it means I have a shot at this eventually going away on its own.



      The moment I noticed the ringing my mind immediately went to "Oh dear god you damaged your ears with that bloody match, why didn't you just wait??", and to be honest I expected the doctor to confirm that when he looked inside both ears. This may not make a lot of sense but in a certain light, not knowing what caused this is almost as bad as the noise itself.
       
    5. erik
      Breezy

      erik Manager Staff Benefactor

      Location:
      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      I don't think cleaning your ears caused any damage or your T and H. Hyperacusis and Tinnitus usually go hand in hand so if you have one, you usually have the other but sometimes one affects you more than the other. When I had it, I also had tinnitus also but for me at the time the Hyperacusis was far more bothersome. Then when it died down after a few months, I began to notice the T more. I still have some sound sensitivity but not nearly as bad and not everything amplified 10x.

      It is very hard to pinpoint an exact cause for either unless you know that you were standing next to an explosion when it went off and next thing you knew you had tinnitus. Part of the frustration with either or both is finding out the reason why? For me I went to the ENT, got a hearing test, then I went to a tinnitus clinic, got a more in depth hearing test and high freq hearing test and that's where I think I found my answer. I had lost some of my high frequency hearing and that was most likely the cause of my T. Never really found out for sure why I also had H. I think it was a combination of a bad place I was in at the time, some depression, extreme stress and anxiety which triggered it.

      Here some info on hyperacusis: http://www.entnet.org/content/hyperacusis-increased-sensitivity-everyday-sounds
       
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    6. Mark Beehre
      Facebooking

      Mark Beehre Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Wellington, New Zealand
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2008 // 11/2014
      I don't have hyperaccusis but I can relate to the the volume control issue and I would put it down to anxiety.

      When I am more anxious and focused on my tinnitus I notice that noises seem louder. My response to the loud noise is negative and this further increases my anxiety. It's quite a nasty loop and can be very difficult to pull yourself out of.

      What I would recommend doing is reducing your auditory exposure. If you can keep the worlds volume down for a while without resorting to ear plugs then you may cool your anxiety. Overtime you can increase your exposure and eventually you will completely forget about the problems you faced earlier.

      I got tinnitus six years ago, a noticeable ringing in my right ear that was quite sharp. A year later it no longer was a focus of my attention. I went to noisy places and didn't give it a second thought. The only time I was affected by the ringing was at night when I went to sleep. However, I knew tinnitus well enough by then to not be afraid of it so it didn't bother me. I played some background masking sounds and completely switched it off. It stayed like that for 5 years before I had a relapse. My relapse was due to an auditory event so you aren't guaranteed of that. But a friendly caution either way, be sure to protect your ears with quality ear plugs from anything north of 80db for the foreseeable future. It's kind of like a bone break, even though it repairs and gets better, it can never handle the same amount of stress as it once did before.

      I would put this down to your anxiety turning up your auditory gain. Think of it like this. You walk through a quiet park at night and hear the crack of a branch. Suddenly you go on alert and you are more aware of all the sounds you previously just ignored.

      Again don't worry about it. It's completely natural and you will be get over this when you get over your anxiety.

      This could be something more serious and you should get this checked by the Doctor. However it's not uncommon for dizziness to be associated with anxiety. In fact the two often go hand-in-hand.

      You probably know where I am going with this, but it's also not uncommon for anxiety to cause tiredness. Lack of sleep being one factor and the mental resources associated with fixating on the problem being the other.

      Yup. Anxiety. I actually get more hungry when anxious. It affects people in different ways! :)
       
    7. Lever151
      Busy

      Lever151 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Viral ear infection
      Hi Jason, I'm so new to this that I'm not good for advice but do listen to the people on this board. I'm week 2 into this and have found what aRC, Mark, and Erik to say to be true. I was so anxious at first that I lost 14 lbs in 6 days. My PCP put me on Xanax as I had myself so worked up.
      I had an audiologist test me and I not only passed but have the hearing of a teenager. I'm treating it now as something that isn't there, doesn't bother me and keep telling myself there is nothing to panic about. For the past 2 days I've only noticed it a few times during the day and sometimes at night but if I wake up I put a sound machine on near me and I'm fine.
      The hyperacusis thing did happen to me when my anxiety was in high alert. I'm also praying and keeping the faith that this will go or fully habituate quickly.

      Let us know how the hearing test goes. When I got the results I had a huge weight lifted knowing I wasn't losing my hearing. Now I have an ENT appt tomorrow as my MRI showed maxillary sinus cysts. Thinking maybe these are growing and causing this?? Anyone else ever have this or known someone???

      Good luck, God bless, and stay positive!!!!
       
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    8. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Mark Beehre & Level151:


      Big thanks to you both for stepping up and being willing to provide your feelings and share some of your experiences with me. Words do not do justice to how helpful you all have been here who have posted and giving me a starting point.


      The last few days I have been coping much better and I have noticed that my vertigo seems to be fading, so that is a positive sign. I am going to wait another week or so and if nothing changes I will be looking at seeing an ENT and also an audiologist. I am blessed to currently have my time and space to myself, and being able to control my environment has proved powerful in that I can limit what noises take center stage. I can even sleep whilst my T is going on, however I do find it easier to have a space heater or a pc fan running in the background to mask it.


      I am naturally a curious and analytically inclined person by nature, so the cause of the T and H (the H is here too but seems to be less impacting) is very much on my mind. I am really, really stretching here but there was one change in my diet lately in that I stopped taking Ginko Biloba (ran out). To me this would be a hail Mary of a cause or link however this is all I can think of. I will be sure to update you all on what the results are and I may have questions for some of you based on what the ENT and Audiologist findings are. God bless each and every one of you for doing what you can to help out, it has made this transition much easier on me.
       
    9. Mark Beehre
      Facebooking

      Mark Beehre Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Wellington, New Zealand
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2008 // 11/2014
      Hey Jason,

      Glad to hear the vertigo is improving.

      Don't be afraid to mask 24/7. The rules concerning habituation suggest you don't mask the sound entirely. I won't argue with that, but right now you are fighting on two fronts, i.e. anxiety and tinnitus. You can't control the latter but you can certainly defeat the former. If masking the crap out of it makes you feel better then do it, provided it isn't loud enough to damage your ears.

      Once you have your anxiety under control you can look forward to things like habituation and walk those steps. But first, let's just deal with that anxiety.

      Dr Nagler has a write up on his tinnitus website about the real effects of Ginko. Might be worth reading. Just google search his name and you will find the page.

      Trying to understand the cause is natural. Understanding the cause won't reverse the problem though. All it does is fuel anxiety through uncertainty. Don't spend your waking hours reading about tinnitus and what everyone is going through. You aren't them and it affects us all differently.

      Happy to chat via PM if you have any questions. You aren't in this alone and if I can offer some encouraging words or versus from the Bible just let me know.

      Cheers,
      Mark
       
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    10. Matt01

      Matt01 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      28/11/14
      Some good advice here. Whilst I don't have the hyper sensitivity to sound, I must admit I absolutely hate vacuuming now as the Hoover seems really loud. Maybe it's just in my head, but am seriously thinking of using ear plugs when hoovering.

      On masking, I now generally mask during the day with normal background sounds and radio, but I do zero masking at night (previously used the radio). My gut feel tells me complete masking isn't good for letting the brain try to get rid of the T or habituate.
       
    11. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      I have an update of sorts, fresh in my mind so I want to share it.



      The last few days I have not noticed the noise, I am not sure if this is because I have started to habituate to it or a mixture of focusing on other areas plus masking the noise at various points of the day. Perhaps twenty minutes ago I was sitting down in the same chair I was in when the noise was first noticed about ten days ago. Something very interesting just happened:

      con
      I have a beard this winter and have developed a bad habit of biting down on my upper or lower lip due to the mustache, and almost grinding my jaw in the process. This habit has gotten so bad that I have had a few small cuts on my upper and lower lips from the bard scratching it. Just now while sitting in my chair I consciously beca,e ware of the noise again, perhaps for the firs time in several days (small victory!). As soon as I noticed the noise again I stopped what I was doing, which was biting my damned lip again. This instantly had me curious of this habit that is moving my jaw around more than it should could somehow be related to the Tinnitus? I'm I completely off my rocker here or is there a known link between grinding of the jaw and Tinnitus? I would not describe the habit as grinding of the jaw more than I would say it was excessive, unnecessary movement of the upper and lower jaw.


      I hope the above is coherent enough, this just happened so I have put this together very quickly.
       
    12. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Now that I think of it, that is probably what I was doing whilst thinking away in my chair ten days ago or so now when this all first began. If I am correct then the good news here would be that I can force myself to stop this habit ASAP and the noise should once again dissipate. If i'm not then i'm still stumped.....
       
    13. JasonC

      JasonC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Been about a week plus since the tinnitus came back, some days are good, some bad.


      Does anyone reading this have any experience with neck pain and grinding of teeth / jaw or overuse of the jaw being linked to T? I have yet to see a ENT yet however since the last incident I described above I am now wondering if that habit of moving my upper and lower jaw around so much has caused this.


      Any insight or feedback you can provide is much appreciated.
       

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