Eliminating Tinnitus by Not Reacting to It — a Journey to Silence

Discussion in 'Support' started by Asian, Jun 30, 2014.

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    1. Asian

      Asian Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      4 weeks
      1. Hi Mark, tell us a bit about your condition. How long have you had tinnitus? What symptoms have you been getting? Is the sound you hear there all the time, or is it intermittent?

      I first started experiencing the symptoms of tinnitus in Spring 2010. The sound I hear is a high-pitched ringing coupled with a hiss. The sound itself is constant, but the pitch and volume vary significantly. It is more prominent in the left side.

      2. How did you actually develop tinnitus in the first place? Has anything in particular triggered it? Can you tell (or guess) what the underlying cause is?

      I am 29 years old and have played in rock bands since junior high, so it is no surprise that I have noise-induced tinnitus. I first started experiencing symptoms about an hour after a gig on the night before Easter in 2010. The entire night we were louder than usual, but if I had to pinpoint an exact moment that “caused” it, that would be was a distortion-heavy and obscenely-loud cover of Muse’s “Starlight.” I remember my ears feeling strange immediately after we stopped playing.

      3. How did it use to affect your day-to-day life when it started? What impact has it had on you in the past?

      The immediate impact was just anxiety. I had, before that moment, some temporary ringing in the ears after concerts. But I remember waking up on my girlfriend’s couch in the middle of the night about a week after the onset and nearly having a panic attack because the ringing seemed so loud and incessant. There were times I had sleepless nights or difficulty concentrating in quiet places. However, over time, I naturally “habituated” and the sound consequently seemed to become much quieter. For two years, it was not a big deal.

      In May 2012, however, the volume seemed to spike. I started to monitor it, believing I may have done more damage. Eventually, my monitoring turned to obsession and all of a sudden what was an imperceptible noise for 98% of the day became intrusive 100% of the time. I had trouble studying for the bar exam. I had trouble sleeping. I feared quiet rooms. I could hear it over the television. I could hear it in social situations. I could hear it all the time. I was a wreck for several months, depressed and anxious.

      4. Have you had somebody to diagnose it? Have you been to see a GP, audiologist, or any traditional health care providers about it? What treatment did they offer?

      I initially saw my general practitioner, who told me it would just go away. After the spike in 2012, I went to see one of the top audiologists in the Chicagoland area and spent a significant amount of money on an exam that basically told me what I already knew: my hearing was fine, I had tinnitus, and treatment would be a long, expensive process designed to aid in habituation. I temporarily used Xanax, but it only helped with the anxiety.

      5. Have you tried any alternative treatments, dietary/lifestyle changes, or treatments not offered by traditional health care providers? Have you had any success with of them?

      I tried a few OTC products offered in your average drug store that amounted to nothing more than snake-oil. I tried completely ridding myself of caffeine and alcohol. I tried exercising, and then, not exercising. I tried meditation. I used maskers and white noise generators. I used a pitch generator for residual inhibition. Nothing worked. In fact, I found that by willfully altering my life around the condition, I only gave more attention to the tinnitus and further hindered the process of habituation. Tinnitus should not require you to deprive yourself of some activity or otherwise require you to alter your lifestyle.

      6. Have you seeked counseling or therapy? In particular, have you looked into sound therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy? Did any of them help?

      I looked into them, but felt that all they offered was just expensive hand-holding for a process that would happen naturally if I just took my mind out of the way.

      7. How did you eventually start to cope with it? Do you manage it better now than when it first started? What impact does tinnitus have on you today?

      Well, taking and passing the bar exam eliminated a great deal of external stress that was making it difficult for me to relax. Once that was out of the way, I could focus on getting my head straight. All of the literature I read boiled down to this: if you can get your brain to treat the sound as “unimportant,” your brain will no longer give it any attention and you will, consequently, no longer perceive it. In other words, I just had to stop caring about the tinnitus. It may seem obvious, but obsessing over a sound is not the way to go if your ultimate goal is to train your brain to ignore the sound.

      At first it was difficult to stop obsessing. But after a while, I proceeded to live life as if I did not even have tinnitus anymore. I played basketball. I drank coffee again. I went out with friends. I traveled. I did things that made me happy and when I was happy, I no longer cared about having tinnitus. In the beginning, when I was focused on something else, I could go seconds without hearing it. With time, those seconds turned to minutes, the minutes turned to hours, hours turned to days, and days to weeks, and so on.

      Today, my tinnitus is inconsequential to daily life. I go weeks without even noticing it. Occasionally I may hear it in a quiet room or with my ear on a pillow, but the sound just doesn’t register. I don’t have any reaction to it. If there was a cure that came out tomorrow, I would probably not even feel inclined to get it.

      8. These days, What do you do to manage your tinnitus? What do you do when it gets particularly bad?

      Nothing. I simply use ear plugs in loud places (concerts, crowded bars, etc.). In fact, “managing” your tinnitus is exactly what you do NOT want to do. If it gets “bad” I just ignore it, knowing it will go back to normal soon enough.

      9. Do you believe there’s a single “silver bullet” cure for tinnitus? Do you believe there will ever be one?

      Maybe, maybe not. While research should certainly continue to look for one, anyone afflicted with the condition should stop wasting their time holding out hope. If you are still secretly waiting for a cure, you have yet to take the first step in habituation: not caring about your tinnitus. The fact is, you do not need a “silver bullet” because you can live the same healthy, happy life with tinnitus.

      10. Anything else you’d like to tell us that we might have left out?

      Just some general advice:

      See a doctor. Gather as much information as you need to learn about the affliction. Seek support. Protect your ears. But eventually, you just have to move on and live life again. Do not keep looking for cures. Do not spend all day on internet forums listening to horror stories. Do not obsess over what will make it worse or better. The best “cure” for tinnitus is living a happy life.
       
    2. earsnothappy

      earsnothappy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      May 2014
      I'd be curious to know what frequencies and at what volume his tinnitus is. If I only heard mine in a quiet room or with my ear on a pillow, I think I'd be in a much better place. Currently I hear mine while driving, while listening to music, while watching TV, on the subway, during conversations in restaurants, practically everywhere. I try to ignore it, but it just doesn't happen. Hopefully in time I will have better luck ignoring it.
       
    3. Martin69
      Artistic

      Martin69 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      (Health) Anxiety
      Agreed. I am also wondering why I just not simply ignore T and live a happy life. :arghh:
      Maybe my life is not happy. Maybe T gave me a depression. Maybe a depression gave me T.
      I am on the search for a happy life where I do not notice my T for weeks.
      I can hear mine even in the loudest places. But I am sure it is because my whole focus is on it.
      I don't know how to ignore.
       
    4. RichL
      Inspired

      RichL Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Palmerston North NZ
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      I am very suspect about these story's and wonder how bad his T was to begin with!
      I was like that in the beginning because my T was at a level that even with foam ear plugs in I could only just hear it, and probably could have wrote a similar story but not now since my T has gone into overdrive and I hear it all the time.
      I wouldn't be surprised if everyone with intrusive T is only existing and really just holding out for a cure!

      Rich
       
    5. Martin69
      Artistic

      Martin69 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      (Health) Anxiety
      Nevertheless I am wondering why for example member "Austin Powers" on the Yuku board could hear his T over the shower and after doing TRT, doesn't notice T 99.9% of the time.
      So I am really wondering if my T is only so loud because I concentrate/obsess on it.
      Like you Rich, I had days where T was just a faint hiss in one ear. It was no problem covering it with environmental sounds. But why did it become so loud? Is it because I concentrate too much on it? The problem is, ignoring this is nearly impossible.
       
    6. RichL
      Inspired

      RichL Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Palmerston North NZ
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      That is what I'm trying to work out Martin, Stress, depression and yes probably concentrating to much on it, I would like to know how he was able to ignore it too, specially being able to hear it over the shower!
       
    7. Martin69
      Artistic

      Martin69 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      (Health) Anxiety
      What really scares me, is that I don't know if perhaps my life is not good enough handling T.
      So I could imagine that people with a fulfilling life can cope better. Does that mean on the opposite that my life is bad? This confuses me since I don't know if it is T causing my depression or if I was already in a depression (I did not know about) and this caused my T. Because in the latter, I would have to change things to better cope with T. I am running in circles here.
       
    8. RichL
      Inspired

      RichL Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Palmerston North NZ
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      Not at all bro, life with T or without T is what you make it, the fact that some people seem to cope better than others is not a blight on those people who have trouble coping, you just need that little bit of extra help.

      It doesn't matter what caused your depression, you just have to take some action now, tell your audiologist that your not coping, I know I'm able to ring my audiologist at anytime for guidance and to discuss my T and what little tweaks I can do for my therapy and you should be able to do the same with yours if they are truly a professional!
       
    9. Ray Seddon
      Amused

      Ray Seddon Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Western Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      1985
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unprotected hearing damage - highpowered firearm, open-cab tractors...
      I agree with you earsnothappy and Marton69 - I cannot ignore my T because it is loud, intrusive, and it is there always - TV, conversation, if I were to block it out with sound it would require very very loud noise, so I block it out by concentrating on other things (distraction). So I can't forget about it, because I have to manage it some how - by avoiding quiet, by masking, by listening to radio earphones, by playing masking sounds all night. Probably like you guys, this is all I can do to stop going insane - I have to manage it and that means noticing it when I'm not distracted, so I also try to stay distracted. If I can't, then I mask and concentrate on the masking sounds (which are about half the volume of my T - I can't drown it out so I don't try). So maybe I'm not handling this too well either. One day at a time is all we can do.; some days are maybe a little better than others.
       
    10. Martin69
      Artistic

      Martin69 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Germany
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      (Health) Anxiety
      Puuh. 29 years with T and no habituation.
      I don't know how to live with this BS for another 8 months.
      Did you try tinnitus, CBT or minfulness treatments?
      On the other side, Dr. Nagler also has a very loud T and he no longer cares.
      Habituation should work with mild and also with loud T.
       
    11. Ray Seddon
      Amused

      Ray Seddon Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Western Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      1985
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unprotected hearing damage - highpowered firearm, open-cab tractors...
      Yes Martin about fifteen years ago, Neuromonics - it was expensive but there was no counselling, just a music player with classical tracks, followed by monthly hearing tests - in those days there was very little wrong with my hearing, there was nothing in the program to do with my T - it was never explained and the technician I saw didn't seem to understand T - just kept suggesting a hearing aid. However these were early Neuromonics days and I don't think the people doing it had much of an idea - I tend to think after reading posts here that the Neromonics of today is a lot different. I hope so because it was a waste of $5G for me. I am getting more desperate, however, as my T is increasing in volume, that maybe I will try it again. This time I am much better informed and will know whether the treatment is along the lines of TRT. I did habituate myself over the years because it's only been the last five years that I have become more aware of it. I'm finding it more difficult now because of the sheer volume of it. I have to mask more and more, even through the day. (As I sit here writing this I have the Music Player on!) but it helps.
       
    12. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      I'm slightly confused. Is this thread a story or a Q&A autobiography? Four weeks with T is just a bad month. Good positive story though I think it belongs under "Success Stories".
       

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