Earplug Treatment for Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by Blujay, Nov 5, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      From reading others' success stories, it appears that your very best chance to make your tinnitus go away or improve dramatically would be to wear earplugs whenever you leave the house for a long, long time, possibly years. This means wearing them in the car, on the street, in the grocery store--basically everywhere.

      This is hard to accept and cope with, and few have the patience to do it.

      Much of what you read tells tinnitus sufferers to use ear plugs only for volumes above 80 decibels. Many will suggest business as usual, and to use plugs only for very loud sounds. This is certainly the easiest lifestyle, and what everyone, including me, wants to hear. However, if you do that, your chances of healing may be slim.

      This is a little-talked-about subject, and it may be because people simply don't want to hear about a possible treatment that "might" work, yet requires religious and uncomfortable dedication for a long time. (Ironically, the alternative--carry on in the noisy world and mask the damage at night--appears to be an equally miserable yet accepted option.)

      But common sense would tell you that earplugs are the way to go. Below is a link to a sobering article, which shows how damage continues to occur to an ear for months after the initial injury--without even additional sound exposure. It also would explain why so many return to forums with worse tinnitus. Contrary to many debates you'll see, it appears from photos in this article that a previously damaged ear is certainly now prone to further injury.

      http://m.jneurosci.org/content/29/45/14077.full

      If this doesn't make you want to wear earplugs, nothing will.

      The "earplug treatment" for tinnitus should be discussed a lot more. There is a lot of support and airtime for many other topics. But people who attempt wearing ear plugs as a long-term attempted "cure" need a whole boatload of support, too. You need a lot of encouragement to even consider it. If you have loud tinnitus, this is really, really hard. But earplug use for improving T is such an important possibility, it should really be tried, encouraged, and studied.
       
    2. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      wearing earplugs on a constant basis causes an amplification of tinnitus; this has been shown in a number of studies. When you deprive the brain of usual noise input it causes an increase in sensory gain, similar to what happens to your vision if you spend a lot of time in dark places. This will enhance the perception of internal noises, including tinnitus.

      I think that the 80db limit is on the high side, and tend to stick closer to the EPA limit which is 75, but I have never seen any evidence to suggest that it's a good idea to wear earplugs in day-to-day sonic environments of less than 70-75db.

      So, I don't think that "common sense is that earplugs are the way to go" unless you spend a lot of time in noisy places; do you have some research on this to support what you're saying?

      edit: don't get me wrong; I avoid noisy places, and I don't run any fans/etc at night. So, I try to rest my ears as much as possible -- I'm just not convinced that wearing earplugs all the time would improve my hearing apparatus, when there's reasonable evidence to the contrary.

      I've literally never heard anyone say that they got rid of their tinnitus by wearing earplugs for months, either -- usually people just try that and end up with worse hyperacusis.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      linearb wrote:
      "wearing earplugs on a constant basis causes an amplificationof tinnitus; this has been shown in a number of studies. When you deprive the brain of usual noise input it causes an increase in sensory gain..."
      -----
      Right, linearb, but is that amplification permanent?


      linearb wrote:
      "...I have never seen any evidence to suggest that it's a good idea to wear earplugs in day-to-day sonic environments of less than 70-75db."
      -----
      My purpose in this post was not to analyze scientific evidence on "accepted" decibel levels. It was to relay information on people I've read about or known personally, who dramatically reduced or even eliminated their tinnitus. My point was that their approaches didn't even consider the numbers you are citing or the research you are requesting, and that maybe there are other places to look for answers besides textbooks.


      linearb wrote:
      "...So, I try to rest my ears as much as possible..."
      -----
      You're doing the same thing as the people who improved, except they did it more than you.


      linearb wrote:
      "I'm just not convinced that wearing earplugs all the time would improve my hearing apparatus, when there's reasonable evidence to the contrary..."
      -----
      These people didn't wearplugs all the time, but everywhere when they were out and about. And they eventually removed them when their ears got better.


      Linearb wrote:
      "I've literally never heard anyone say that they got rid of their tinnitus by wearing earplugs for months, either -- usually people just try that and end up with worse hyperacusis."
      -----
      These people wore earplugs not just for months, but in some cases, years.

      Adding hyperacusis to the mix complicates things. But if you read hyperacusis literature elsewhere, you'll see that protection is recommended for some time before attempting treatment with sound exposure.
       
    4. SoulStation
      No Mood

      SoulStation Member Ambassador Team Tech

      Location:
      New York
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise / Possible Medication
      I've been wearing my musicians plugs pretty religiously lately (I mean a lot! In the car all afternoon teaching music lessons). I feel it's a double edged sword as it helps keep me calm and protects but may be making my T more reactive. Anyone else comment on this?
      Also I'd love to read those studies on ear plugs and amplification of T you refer to @linearb - if you could find them.
       
    5. Telis

      Telis Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Calgary
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013
      I don't think I could handle this at this point. My T is pretty much too loud to wear plugs now, at onset yes no problem, these days it goes so nuts when I seal it in that I almost can't stand it for much longer than about 30 min. I start to suffer too much and loose it after some time. I swear it sounds as loud as a smoke detector after a while, especially when I'm out and there are other sounds that it is reacting to.
       
    6. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      Sometimes chewing gum can provide just enough sound stimulation to keep theT from winding up.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    7. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      In what circumstances is your T reactive?
       
    8. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      Well, as i have said before , I know of ONE person that got rid of their T after 3 years , he wore earplugs..all the time.
       
    9. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      I have the dedication to do that , i am just concerned about hypercusis and other horror stories.
       
    10. Atlantis

      Atlantis Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2014
      I know a person who started drinking apple juice, drank it for 3 years and his tinnitus disappeared.

      It must have been the apple juice!

      Seriously, it is more than possible that your friend's tinnitus would have gone away regardless, with or without the use of earplugs. There is no way of knowing for sure...
       
    11. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      He mentioned that he had a banana
       
    12. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      i am just saying , if there is an injury , maybe it needs to heal ? Who the fuck knows.
       
    13. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      Did your friend who got rid of his T by wearing earplugs develop hyperacusis?
       
    14. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      nope..
       
    15. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      That's right; we never know anything for sure. However, in order to have a meaningful comparison, your apple juice story would have to be true....
       
    16. SoulStation
      No Mood

      SoulStation Member Ambassador Team Tech

      Location:
      New York
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise / Possible Medication
      Fans. Car. Basically most constant sounds.
       
    17. Telis

      Telis Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Calgary
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013
      I developed hyperacusis from damaging my ears through noise exposure and taking a lot of meds after T onset, NOTHING to do with protecting my ears!

      You don't get H from protecting your ears. Haha. I know people that live their whole lives as quietly as I do now with T and H. They have perfect hearing and zero sensitivity becasue they aren't abusing their ears.

      You don't need constant racket to have a healthy auditory system. This is a joke as far as I'm concerned, I have never heard such a thing in the real world. People don't walk around worrying about their ears if they live/work in a quiet environment What a load of BS.
       
      • Agree Agree x 3
      • Like Like x 1
    18. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      lol maybe that's my whole problem; at home and work I have very low level but pretty much constant HVAC noises to contend with at all times.

      On the other hand, I've spend days/weeks out in the woods, and rarely has this seemed to trigger an improvement. It has happened a couple times, though -- I went to stay with a friend's family in super rural barely-on-the-grid WV, and my tinnitus was better for those 2 days than any other time in the last 12 months. (Only downside is that the internet literally goes offline when it rains there, madness, 1800s living).
       
    19. SoulStation
      No Mood

      SoulStation Member Ambassador Team Tech

      Location:
      New York
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise / Possible Medication
      Is your T reactive? Mine seems to settle down when I have ear plugs in(musicians plugs or muffs- not foam which I find uncomfortable).
       
    20. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      mine doesn't go away when I plug, but I find plugging to be a lot more tolerable than certain kinds of noisy environments that my T seems to sort of "compete" with.

      I've had a couple brief and terrifying experiences with what I'd call 'reactive' T, where the sound of my own voice will create a loud and grating ringing on the left side only (which is the more damaged of my two ears) -- the first time that ever happened was the day after I took Trobalt for the first time, and it's happened on one other occasion with no trigger I am aware of. This makes me skeptical about the wisdom of popping Trobalt...
       
    21. object16
      Magical

      object16 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      1988
      i always use LIGHT protection. means that i always use a noise cancelling headset wherever i go. I use a Bose QC15 in my car and when i'm in the grocery store, and at work i use a Sennheiser which is not as "serious" looking as the Bose. I also ALWAYS have a MP3 player attached which feeds very QUIET rainfall sound to my hearing system, which as far as i can tell from my reading, and talking to ATA people and audiologists, is a GOOD thing to do. I imagine i am feeding around a 50db of constant sound to my hearing system. this is the only way i can cope. I have been doing this for 2 years now, and although i have had some tinnitus spike due to an unexpected noise which i could not anticipate and protect myself from, i am very slowly getting better. I am still what you would call a "tinnitus cripple", but at least i can still work, and support my family.

      I used to use CONSTANT hearing protection, 30 years ago, and this made me develop HYPERACCUSIS, and then this was followed by devastating tinnitus. unfortunately, no one back then knew that it was actually dangerous to wear OCCLUSIVE protection 24/7 like what i was doing. The well trained modern audiologist that i talk to, say that my suspicious is correct, my problem was caused by OVERUSE of hearing protection, and the you MUST use only the APPROPRIATE degree of protection. Now way, can you cure it by wearing protection 24/7. There is no way i can even tolerate wearing hearing protection like that, because it makes the perception of tinnitus so loud i just cannot tolerate it. At night, i play very quiet "restful rain" CD, along with CD of the Dhali Lama. My daughter prepared these music / rain files for me, using audacity, to make the sound level extremely constant.



      It is only by following the above, that i have made a little bit of progress, very slowly. I also take a sh*t load of meds to get me to sleep, including mirtazapine, lyrica, THC, etc., which i do not have any choice but to take.
      without the meds, i would be a complete basket case. I know that people have told me: get off those meds, they will kill you. maybe they will, but so far they haven't. and i did manage to wean myself OFF of imovane, which is a very addictive sleep med. The meds that I take, are not that addictive. At least I find, in my own case, that my dose has been pretty steady. I used to take seroquel as well, but i'm off of seroquel.

      So I agree with your idea: your ears have been injured, and they need to heal. it is logical to protect your hearing, but not so much that your brain cannot rewire itself, which is called "habituation", which means you gradually become less annoyed with the sound, it becomes less intrusive, and you gradually notice it less, and very often it actually does get quieter. at least it has been for me. and my tinnitus, has been so bad, 3 years ago, that i was sure i was going to suic*** myself. I was able to hold myself together by taking imovane, but that also made my work performance kind of shitty, and i was totally out of it, a lot of the time, but now i'm off imovance, off seroquel, and take meds which are not as addictive.

      I actually was put on elavil, back in 1982, and eventually the dose kept going up and up, and that almost did kill me. i'm taking meds which are safer, now, but as you can see, i've been on meds for 33 years, to help me cope, and I use them as part of a comprehensive approach. A very essential part of the approach is hearing protection, as outlined above. Also essential, is to get proper sleep, which you need sound at night to accomplish. i also require meds. that sucks, but at least i have that option. i also have been getting proper exercise, which is beneficial for the body/mind/hearing. i often do wish, i could end it all, but right now i have to support my family, and i would like to get in another few more years of work, to stabilize my finances, and at that point just get out. my problem, is that i love my work, and i'm very good at it. so i don't want to give that up. so all these things keep me going: work, family, etc
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    22. Steve Hubert

      Steve Hubert Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2008
      Goes against pretty much everything known about T. A sound rich environment has been researched to be effective.
       
    23. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      Well, not much is known about T at all ..."researched to be effective" Effective at what ?
      Making you better ? Maybe that had nothing to do with a rich sound environment?
      In some sense it could work placing your T at the "noise floor" along with all your other internal sounds that you dont hear normally. Then when removing your earplugs your ears are filled with sounds that are much "louder" then the internal ones ? Just thinking out loud here , have nothing to back this up....or refute it.
       
    24. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      It's refreshing to see original thinking.

      When using earplugs long-term for "healing," I would add this possibility: Once the ears are settled or healed, and the plugs are finally removed, the external sounds could then begin lowering the central auditory gain, further reducing the sound of any remaining T.
       
    25. object16
      Magical

      object16 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      1988
      for TRT it is very specific, that the "masking" sound is *just less* than the tinnitus. the white noise/ pink noise etc is at a *low level* so as to not cause any more damage. however, they don't address the issue of our normal sound polluted environment, with diesel trucks, trucks with bad muffler, too loud paging systems, all sort of sound that easily has transient high peaks, and the low frequencies that come from bad mufflers etc diesel locomotive, have very high energy levels that are quite damaging. that is why i *always* use some for of protection, but not earplugs unless i'm using a power saw or other power tools. i don't even bother to use the lawn mower - way too loud, my neighbours get mad as hell, but too bad.
       
    26. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      That's true: TRT adjustments are done on a delicate level. Then the patient immediately proceeds to go out into a world that is very rough. And the often-recommended decibel guidelines for those with hearing damage are crude and questionable.
       

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