Dr. Nagler, How Do I Overcome My Anxiety About Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Dr. Stephen Nagler (MD)' started by aot, Dec 12, 2019.

    1. aot
      Bookworm

      aot Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016. Worsened 11/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably sound induced.
      Dear Dr. Nagler, I've had sound induced tinnitus since 2016. My mother also has Meniere's Diesase, which I suppose hasn't done me any favors.

      At first my tinnitus was mild, barely noticeable. But two weeks ago I went to an event with friends and did not use ear protection.

      A few days later, I believe as a result, I had a severe spike in my tinnitus, mostly in my left ear. It fluctuates, and often I can mask it, but it's always noticeable.

      I guess this is more of a personal question than a medical one: How the hell can I live a happy life, without being in constant fear of my tinnitus?

      I've made changes, (stopped using earbuds, stopped consuming caffeine, am currently looking for a job with less noise exposure, and I've since started using ear plugs when they are needed.) but I can't let go of the fear of the seemingly inevitable possibility of my tinnitus getting worse, and becoming unbearable. I'm often kept awake at night dreading the possibility of my condition worsening.

      I'm only 21, and I don't want to spend my life living in fear. I want to have a good career, meet a cute girl, and have a happy life.

      How can I overcome this fear?
       
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    2. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Location:
      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1994
      Hello @aot -

      I am sorry to read of your struggles. Truly I am.

      I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do have a few that I am happy to share with you. Please bear in mind, however, that some folks will disagree with me. What follows is nothing more than my best shot at it.

      First and foremost, you are two weeks into this increased level of tinnitus along with the fear and anxiety you seek to overcome. Your auditory system has been attacked by an amorphous intruder, and you are struggling to overcome the resultant fear and anxiety. You might not know this, but there is a very sophisticated medical term that describes your fear and anxiety. It comes from the Latin. And that very sophisticated medical term is ... NORMAL. That's right. Your fear and anxiety are totally normal responses given the circumstances. So I'm not so sure its a good idea to spend a lot of time and effort trying to overcome a normal response. My suggestion would be to learn what you can about your tinnitus - learn what tinnitus is and what it isn't - and in time the fear and anxiety should take care of themselves.

      The problem is that if you ask ten different people to tell you what they consider to be the important things to know about tinnitus, you will get ten different answers. And very quickly things can become mighty confusing! Why not take it all in and figure out what applies to you? Maybe not such a good idea because while there's a whole lot of information out there ... just because something you read makes good sense, that does not necessarily mean it is good information.

      Anyway, if you have not already done so, you should go ahead and make an appointment with an ENT for a tinnitus evaluation since you have had a marked change in your tinnitus. Perhaps you might schedule the appointment for two or three weeks from now. Then, if your tinnitus settles back down in the interim (yes, it happens), you can simply cancel the appointment. That approach makes more sense to me than waiting two or three weeks and at that point (if there is no improvement) trying to find an ENT who can see you on short notice.

      OK. So what do I think are the important things for you to know about tinnitus at this stage of the game? I have summarized them in an article entitled "Tinnitus 101 for Newbies" that I am attaching to this post.

      All the best with it. I will keep a good thought for you.

      Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.
       

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    3. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Location:
      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1994
      @aot, I just reworded something in my post above that might have been misleading. I do not think that it's a particularly good idea to try to take in as much information as possible and attempt to figure out what applies to you. It's like throwing a bunch of stuff against the side of a barn to see what sticks ... when it is entirely possible that some of what sticks is worthless, and some of what falls to the ground is valuable! Like I said, just because something makes good sense, that does not necessarily mean it is good information.

      Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.
       
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