How Could (Even Quiet) Noise Be Making My Tinnitus Temporarily Worse?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Hedgehog, Nov 29, 2019.

    1. Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Hi.

      Whenever I have noises around me, my tinnitus gets worse. Just temporarily though, and even for very mild noises, like from perhaps 30 decibels upwards. Usually the noise causing the increase in tinnitus masks the tinnitus, so I don't notice it, but today I was traveling in the train, and as usual put headphones on (with nothing playing) to make it easier on my ears, and I noticed how my tinnitus was much worse compared to before leaving the house.

      Now that I'm back home again and have no sounds around me, my tinnitus has quieted down again, it takes maybe half an hour or so to get back to whatever my baseline happens to be at that time, which varies from day to day and from ear to ear. Today it so happens that my right ear is at like a 4/10 while I can't even hear anything from my left ear (in terms of tinnitus), and on the train it was more like a 8/10 in both ears.

      Sorry for rambling a bit, I was just wondering, what mechanism could cause it to spike like that? I don't think my tinnitus is caused by hearing damage, because it shifts from left to right quite commonly, and my ENT agrees that my Eustachian tubes are not working correctly, for which I got some nose spray. So I think the ETD might be the cause of my tinnitus and related issues.

      Also I tried steam breathing last week, and have been doing it everyday since, and it has helped me a bit sometimes. The first time I tried steam breathing, my tinnitus was essentially gone, I couldn't get my room quiet enough to notice it, and my sensitivity to sound too. It hasn't really worked perfectly like that since, but it does help, and I do feel my ETs opening up after doing it.

      Could this be something related to the tensor tympani muscle? I was hypothesizing that perhaps having my ETs blocked has caused the those muscles to not work properly, but I'm really just guessing without any real knowledge.

      So does anyone know what this could be? Thanks in advance.
       
    2. JohnAdams
      Festive

      JohnAdams Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Vatican
      Tinnitus Since:
      May 1st 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Aspirin Toxicity/Possibly Noise
      Do you have an audiogram that shows any dips?
       
    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Hi. I have a bit of a dip between 4000 Hz and 8000 Hz, but according to my ENT this wasn't a big deal.

      I send a picture of it as well.
       

      Attached Files:

    4. JohnAdams
      Festive

      JohnAdams Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Vatican
      Tinnitus Since:
      May 1st 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Aspirin Toxicity/Possibly Noise
      Is that where your tinnitus pitch is?
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Maybe, using a tone generator I feel like 9000 Hz and higher is more like my tinnitus than anything between 4000 Hz and 8000 Hz, but I'm not sure how I should test it.
       
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      HI @Hedgehog

      Before your tinnitus started 4 years ago, were you a regular user of headphones? Did you regularly go to places where loud music was played, this could be clubs or concert?

      Have you seen a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist for treatment of your tinnitus? Do you listen to music through headphones now?

      Michael
       
    7. Born To Slay
      Depressed

      Born To Slay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert
      Hi Micheal, I’m new to the forum and wanted to get your opinion on my condition since you seem like a really smart guy. I can’t figure out how to Message you though, so I was wondering if when you get the chance, you could send me a private message and we could talk. Thanks a lot.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Hi Micheal,

      I did regularly use headphones, but I always used them on a low volume. I did not regularly go anywhere with loud noises, I've been to a club once, but nothing that seems to be an obvious cause.

      I went to an ENT doctor and had a hearing test, nothing more than that.

      I occasionally use my headphones when I have to listen to something for school, but not when I can avoid it. Not since it has become so uncomfortable to listen to stuff using headphones, even on low volumes.
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      HI @Hedgehog

      The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise. Typically, this is listening to music through headphones at too high a volume and long durations without giving the ears sufficient rest. You may think you were listening at safe levels, but you probably were not for much of the time. In addition to this you were probably listening for too long a duration. I say this because of what you have described in your post. Tinnitus and sensitivity to sound is mostly caused when the auditory system has suffered a noise trauma. Your continued sensitivity to sound is an indication of hyperacusis.

      If you have been using headphones occasionally over the last 4 years since you have had tinnitus, this most likely to cause further irritation to your ears, auditory system and make them more sensitive to sound. I have corresponded with many people that describe similar symptoms such as yours and the cause is always "sound". This is the reason I asked if you were a regular user of headphones before your tinnitus started 4 years ago, or did you regularly go to clubs and concerts? I also asked if you use headphones now? You have said yes. Even using them at low volume is probably causing your ears to be more sensitive.

      Since you have had tinnitus for quite a while, my advice is to try and see a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management and treatment. I also advise that you stop using headphones even at low volume. Of course it is up to you what you want to do. Please click on the links below and read my posts. I will also paste a post below about my views on headphone use and tinnitus.

      All the best
      Michael

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/new-to-tinnitus-what-to-do.12558/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-a-personal-view.18668/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/hyperacusis-as-i-see-it.19174/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/the-habituation-process.20767/


      I have expressed many times in the forum that it is a risk for anyone that has tinnitus which was caused by exposure to loud noise to use any type of headphones even at low volume. There are people in this forum that have tinnitus which was caused by "exposure to loud noise" and use headphones without any problems. However, there are many people that have "Noise induced" tinnitus and used headphones at low volume and regretted it, because their tinnitus has increased and will not reduce to its previous baseline level.

      The ear canal is approximately 26mm long. When sound is directed into through headphones, it has only one place to go and that is towards the eardrum. This can cause irritating to the cochlear situated behind the eardrum, due the syncopation within music. When listening to music through speakers, there is some dispersion before it is picked up by ear and enters ear-canal. However, if music is too loud one can still cause irritation to the auditory system which can spike the tinnitus and possibly make it worse.

      There are people in this forum that have tinnitus which was not caused by exposure to loud noise and are quick to say using headphones causes no harm for people with Noise induced tinnitus. These people do not have NIT and therefore, know nothing about the condition. If you choose to follow their advice because they are telling you what you want to hear, that is your choice. Just remember, should your tinnitus increase then you will be the one in distress all by yourself with no-one to help you. Peruse some of the posts in this forum from members that have NIT and used headphones and regretted it.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Hi Micheal,

      Thanks a lot for your reply. I will read through the posts you linked. I will also try and avoid using headphones as often as possible.

      I have a few questions though. First, wearing headphones with nothing playing should be fine right? I just wear them to block out some of the noises, like when people are talking loudly in the train.
      Also have you have heard symptoms where tinnitus would shift from one side to the other, seemingly randomly on a day to day basis? This is one of the reasons why I was skeptical of it being caused by noise, because it seems to move like how my dominant nostril moves. Not sure if that is the right term in English, but I have the idea that whenever one side is louder than the other, it is the side where my nostril is blocked. I'm recording recording which side is louder and which side is blocked once per day, so I can see if it is a real effect when I get enough data to rule out it just being a coincidence.
      Is it known what makes headphones particularly bad? I'm not doubting your word, I'm just curious how it could be that two sounds, one from headphones and one from a speaker, could sound equally loud, but the one from the headphones would be worse for your ears. Maybe you cover this in one of your linked posts, in which case ignore this, I'll get to reading them in a minute.

      Thanks a lot.
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      This should be fine, but I think it would be better for you to use "noise reducing" earplugs. Please read my post in the links that I sent you: Hyperacusis, As I see it.

      I may be totally wrong. However, if there is no underlying medical problem within your auditory system that is causing the tinnitus. This includes TMJ, then the usual cause is "sound". Tinnitus doesn't usually start without a reason. Exposure to loud sound is the most common cause of tinnitus. Followed by an underlying problem within the auditory system. Stress can cause it too. From what you describe I think your tinnitus was originally caused by sound, probably headphone use. Please see the health professionals that I have recommended if your symptoms persist.

      All the best
      Michael
       
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    12. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Hedgehog
      Bookworm

      Hedgehog Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unkown
      Hi, I have not tried foam earplugs, but I might give it a try. I'll also try to keep a decibel meter running the next time I travel. I don't think it's as bad for me as in the article you linked. I travel during off hours, and the stations are big enough to get away from crowds and the passenger parts are pretty well isolated, so most of the sound is just people talking who are in the same passenger car.
      I remember a few times when a cargo train would pass at high speed through a station I was waiting at, which was extremely loud. So for that earplugs would be useful.
      Thanks
       
    14. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Many folks are not good at estimating how loud things are. At least cover your ears the next time a train passes.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1

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