Headphones Trigger My Tinnitus — Any Way I Can Continue Using Them?

Discussion in 'Support' started by topcatc, Nov 25, 2021 at 8:57 AM.

    1. topcatc

      topcatc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud headphone use + anti depressants
      Short history: as a teenager I cycled to school and I played my headphones very loud to cover up the sound of the traffic. No problems until I was prescribed an antidepressant (can't remember which but I think sertraline) and for the week I took it I had tinnitus start in both ears. I stopped it after a week and the tinnitus remained. That was about 10 years ago.

      For the most part I don't hear it and it doesn't cause any problems in my life. I only have it in my left ear which was the one I had my headphone in when cycling. The times it comes back are: when I start thinking about it, when I hear a high pitched noise like a truck reversing or an alarm and when using headphones. Hearing a high pitched noise or using headphones means I hear the tinnitus in an annoying way for about 2 weeks and then it fades into the background again. For the last few years I've just avoided all of these things.

      It's using headphones that is starting to become an issue. I would like to be able to do my online meetings in a coffee shop.

      My question: is this a normal known about thing with headphones? What's the cause? Is it dehabituating myself to that sound? Is there any way around it that would allow me to use headphones and not have this like special headphones?
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @topcatc.

      Headphones are one of the most common causes of noise induced tinnitus. Although your tinnitus is problematic at the moment you are still able to manage it. If you continue using headphones, even at low volume then you risk making the tinnitus worse. It is entirely your choice I am just advising you of the risks.

      I have had noise induced tinnitus for many years, corresponded and counselled people with this condition. Most acquired tinnitus from listening to audio too loud through headphones as I did without realizing it. Because of the distress noise induced tinnitus has caused me, I have endeavoured to find ways to prevent it getting worse and some of the best ways to help people to manage it. It is doing my own research that I have concluded, anyone that has noise induced tinnitus and uses any type of headphones. This includes earbuds, AirPods, headsets, noise cancelling or bone conduction headphones, risks making their tinnitus worse even when listening at low volume.

      I hasten to add, some people that have noise induced tinnitus use headphones without any problems. However, things can suddenly change. I have learnt this through correspondence with people. Please type headphones in the search box at the top of this page and read the posts.

      Please click on the link below and read my post: Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus? When you have time go to my started threads and read the following posts: Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? What Causes a Tinnitus Spike and Can It Be Cured? How to Habituate to Tinnitus?

      I wish you well.
      Michael

      Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    3. Tau
      In pain

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      It's most likely the volume - it's very easy to increase it too much with earphones/headphones without it 'feeling' too loud. When you are in a coffee shop, you also need to drown out all the ambient noise and you are tempted to increase the volume further. Try noise cancelling headphones at a very low volume. If those give you trouble, it's best to avoid headphones or any loud sound exposure.
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      topcatc

      topcatc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud headphone use + anti depressants
      Thanks for your reply Michael, I've had a read of your post and taken note of your advice. It's disappointing to hear that there isn't a way round it, but I've managed this far without headphones.

      Do you know what the mechanism is that makes headphones cause tinnitus to return? Is it being dehabituated or is it causing further damage? Or something else?
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      topcatc

      topcatc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud headphone use + anti depressants
      Interesting - I may try that, though I am very wary given Michael's advice above.
       
    6. Brian P

      Brian P Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ménière’s disease
      Just don’t use headphones.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @topcatc

      The precise reason why headphones, earbuds, headsets etc, can make tinnitus worse for some people that have noise induced tinnitus I don't know. I believe once the cochlea in the inner is affected by noise trauma and tinnitus develops, it is more sensitive to sound. I also believe, each time a person with noise induced tinnitus uses any of the devices mentioned above, they are playing Russian roulette with their health.

      I have corresponded with many people that have noise induced tinnitus that regret returning to using headphones after they habituated, because their tinnitus increased and won't reduce to its previous baseline level. This is my findings. As I said, not everyone with noise induced tinnitus will be affected by headphones but many are. Please remember things can change.

      A member of this forum contacted me some time ago in a lot of distress. She had noise induced tinnitus that was originally caused by headphones. She successfully habituated and returned to work and was thoroughly enjoying life were her exact words. She hadn't used any type of headphones for 6 years. She then decided to use them keeping the volume low. Within one week her tinnitus increased retuning with a vengeance that she didn't believe was possible. This person had to stop working because the tinnitus was so distressing. I corresponded with her one time afterwards and things hadn't improved and didn't hear from her again.

      This is a familiar story and is one of the reasons I wrote my post: Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus? Some people will tell you, using headphones, earbuds or headset will cause no harm as long as the volume is low. Please remember what works for them may not work for you. If your tinnitus increases because of headphone use even though the volume is low, it might not reduce to its previous baseline level.

      I wish you all the best whatever you decide to do.

      Michael
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      topcatc

      topcatc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud headphone use + anti depressants
      Thanks again. It sounds like there is a lot of risk, even if there were some chance I would be able to use them without issue, so I'll just not bother.
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I am an Audiophile and used to use headphones a lot. I wasn't aware of listening to music at too high a volume. I haven't used headphones in 25 years and don't miss them. Music is still pleasurable to listen to through speakers.
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      topcatc

      topcatc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud headphone use + anti depressants
      Music I am ok without on headphones, the main thing for me is being able to work remotely and still have my meetings wherever I am without annoying the rest of the coffee shop/train/library.
       
      • Informative Informative x 2
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      If you decide to use any type of headphones for your work then try to keep the volume low. If possible take frequent breaks.

      Best of luck.
      Michael
       
    12. Robster
      Irritated

      Robster Member

      Location:
      South Gloucestershire, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma - MRI
      It's like saying Candyman three times, except you only have to mention headphones once for you know who to appear!
       
    13. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I think it's good that people learn about the risks with headphones. Who's sharing the advice is irrelevant.
       
      • Winner Winner x 2
    14. Robster
      Irritated

      Robster Member

      Location:
      South Gloucestershire, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma - MRI
      True, I just don't like that guy constantly pushing TRT to newcomers to the forum. I agree that there needs to be more awareness about headphones.
       
    15. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      If you do talk during your meetings (which I assume you do, as a participant), you will most likely be annoying the rest of the coffee shop/train/library. Public places are not great places for video conferences.

      Have you tried noise cancelling headphones? With those you should be able to keep the volume reasonably low.
       
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