How Much Should I Be Protecting My Hearing?

Discussion in 'Support' started by pinklights98, Nov 12, 2019.

    1. pinklights98
      No Mood

      pinklights98 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud Noise Exposure
      Hi,

      I have had tinnitus that has frankly been debilitating for five months. I really want to improve, but I keep getting setbacks that have been unavoidable (roommate dropping milk carton on tile flooring, crazy woman screaming in ear inside hotel). I have been avoiding all noisy venues to the best of my ability and wearing earplugs as much as possible.

      The thing I'm struggling with is that I want my ears not to react to everyday sounds. I don't want to overprotect, but I also want my ears to heal. Does anyone have any advice on where to draw this boundary?

      Thanks!
       
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    2. astaff14

      astaff14 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax/Botched Irrigation/Noise Trauma
      Hey! I’ve seen a bunch of your posts and your story and first of all I just want to say how very sorry I am that this has happened to you. I’m only 8 days in and dealing with less severe symptoms than you have for months and I’m coping way worse than you have, your strength is crazy.

      Are there any every day sounds that your ears don’t react negatively to? Like say if you were to spend all day in a quiet room with no disturbances would your ears feel better at all? Do you have any “good” days? If so, even if it’s only a TINY bit better, try and note what you might have done those days that made your ears better.

      For you, I would say wear ear plugs no matter what when you are out and about. Let your ears adjust to sounds more at home, like with watching tv, talking, light sounds like that. Also avoid high frequency noises at all cost I would say. Those are killer even at low volume.

      From everything I’ve seen on here and doing other research it seems that low noises can’t actually cause damage but they can cause spikes, it seems like you haven’t had a consistent time of being able to calm your ears down enough after experiencing such setbacks to stop the spikes. For right now I would say protect as much as you feel uncomfortable, most particularly around the 65-75 dB range. Work up from there once you start to feel a little more comfortable, but I would say don't expose your ears to anything above 85 without serious protection. I know this isn’t always viable but I know you will do your best trying to heal.
      I hope so much that things get easier for you. ❤️
       
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    3. Michael B
      Supportive

      Michael B Member Benefactor

      Location:
      San Diego, CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Stupidity
      I think it's possible to over protect as you said. For what it's worth, I don't wear earplugs any more often than needed, although I keep them available in cases where noise levels are beyond what's comfortable & safe.
       
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    4. arctic loon
      Dreaming

      arctic loon Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      loud music
      In my opinion overprotection isn't harmful. It's surely a debated topic. Underprotection is much more harmful than overprotection. Protect your hearing if the the noise feels uncomfortable or if your symptoms increase in certain settings. It's definitely a learning curve to figure out what amount of noise is ok for your ears. And also, no matter how careful you are accident can still happen... Don't beat yourself up for them, but learn from them so you can be wiser in the future.
       
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    5. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Everyone has to find the path that works best for them. But consider this, which may be helpful:

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-hyperacusis-a-rehabilitative-model.35846/
       
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    6. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      The answer is simple: you cannot cause permanent changes or damages to your ears/brain etc.. by "over-protecting".

      But you run the risk to cause permanent damage with no protection in case something happens, or delay healing.
       
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    7. Gabriel
      Balanced

      Gabriel Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I focused on verifying if I had tinnitus
      I triggered hyperacusis by overprotecting, and I also am quite sure my tinnitus became permanent because I now constantly hear it.

      Overprotecting may be not as bad as being exposed to loud noise, but it's definitely not a good thing to do in my opinion.

      I would do as said above and which I also do: have hearing protection always on hand in case you need it but otherwise don't protect from everyday sounds.
       
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    8. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      my post was meant only for people with noise damage, where extra precaution may be required. If you have no actual damage you don't need plugs/muffs in normal situations
       
    9. Kriszti

      Kriszti Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016/2017/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      What do you consider everyday sounds? I don't think I got tinnitus from acoustic trauma, but headphone use maybe the root cause for my tinnitus. When I'm home I don't protect, only when vacuuming and for hair washing, but that's in order to keep the water from my ears.

      I use either foam plugs or Alpine Party Plug in the city, when I need to go to appointments. Because I never ever realized that living in a capital is so damn loud. The subway can go up to 90-100 db (if my app is correct). All the alarm sound in buses and trains are loud.

      Right now for a month I have been mostly at home, because I study and I could allow that. But I need to start an internship, get my degree, start working soon. And I'm in constant fear that this stupid tinnitus is going to ruin my whole existence. I have had very bad generalized, untreated anxiety for years, hated my life, felt like a loser all the time. Now I just want to get my old life back. I don't really see how millions of people have even semi normal life with tinnitus. Objectively I think that my tinnitus is moderate at best, not severe but how do you cope with the chance of it worsening over time?
       
    10. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      I love the water in my ears - I take baths and purposely put my head under water most evenings. Having the warm water circulating inside, relaxing all the little muscles in the ear... it's heaven for me.

      Doesn't mean to unplug during showers - I don't think you'd get the same effect there; but just thought I'd comment that water probably isn't an enemy.

      -Matt
       
    11. Kriszti

      Kriszti Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016/2017/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I had in August some kind of infection in my ears. They were full and watery fluids came out of them with lots of disgusting wax. ENTs said that it could be ekzema, or fungus, they weren't sure, but cleaned my ears with microsuction. Told me to not have water in my ears for a couple of weeks. I felt that it's maybe wise to extend the period and protect them from water more. I used to love having a bath, now everything seems to be a potential enemy.
       
    12. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Fair enough. Sorry to hear regarding the infection. I *very gently* use a q-tip to dry my ears out after, because the last thing I want is an infection. Not sure what I would do without my baths though!
       
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    13. alex1975

      alex1975 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Las Vegas
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably sound induced
      I think the most important are the first 2-3 months after injury. Anything over 75db, I would try to avoid for long periods or wear ear plugs, but definitely wear ear plugs where the overall volume is over 85db. After your ears have recovered you can up the threshold slowly, but I would wear protection if you will be spending any time in places like loud restaurants and bars (over 85db).
       
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    14. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I have been protecting my ears religiously, while also watching TV at moderate volume level. My hyperacusis went away, and I feel like this approach ought to work for many people.
       
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    15. all to gain
      No Mood

      all to gain Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      June 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      never trust a doctor
      I used to love putting my head underneath, but now I am really wary and try to keep my ears as dry as possible. Really worried now about getting infections and feel keeping my ears dry will help with this. I don't know if it will help or not though.
       
    16. all to gain
      No Mood

      all to gain Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      June 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      never trust a doctor
      I have only worn protection once; on an aeroplane. I really think I am underprotecting, but I haven't gotten used to the idea yet of having tinnitus. It's like i am trying to live as before I got tinnitus, which fortunately didn't involve going to clubs or concerts etc. I defintiely need to reavaluate my lack of protecting though.
       
    17. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Hi @pinklights98. I think that Bill's idea about the tv is a good one - at the least, exposing yourself to some noise in the house, while protecting out of the house, seems a good starting point.

      My only concern with the TV is that it has a more limited frequency range than real life, and is at the mercy of whatever quality speakers you're using. So I would probably be trying to mix up the type of noise you used. But the theory of exposing yourself to controlled sound, in the house, is a good one.

      Also, unlike Bill, I believe that we should be slowly building our aural capacity back up, so that we don't need to protect, forever, as religiously as he feels the need to. But he and I openly differ re that view.

      I may have sent this to you already, but if not, here is my thinking re H/T rehabilitation:

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-hyperacusis-a-rehabilitative-model.35846/
       
    18. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I have been using $5 speakers attached to my computer, and it worked fine for me.
       
    19. Kriszti

      Kriszti Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016/2017/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Bill, can I ask you if you have ever had problems like infections, fungus, ekzema, psoriasis from using earplugs? Or do you mainly use earmuffs? Today I wore foam plugs for hours and my ears feel a bit weird. I wouldn't be worried without the tinnitus, I used to study with earplugs in for 8 hours or so for years, even re-use them (seriously what was I thinking...) , and only got infections like 2x, but now really everything seems to be a cause for worry. I already have zits like stuff in my ear, gross, I know, and I think it's because of plugs and muffs. I hope that because I almost totally cut off using q-tips, and I would use them a lot, my ears tend to be a little less sensitive.
       
    20. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      One time:
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/thread...ugs-and-want-to-avoid-an-ear-infection.35674/

      The lesson - don't insert plugs after a shower and go to sleep.
      I have been reusing mine. When not in use, I store them in the plastic wrapper they came from. I wear plugs when I sleep, and I use each pair for several weeks. I also try to wash my hands before handling my plugs.
       
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    21. Bartoli

      Bartoli Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2009,worsened 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      Have you ever measured the dB level you watch TV on? I guess moderate level might mean different things to different people. Also, does your tinnitus not distract you from watching or is it masked (entirely or partially)?
       
    22. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I don't have a device to do that. It is slightly louder than a normal conversation. Just begin at a level that is comfortable for you, and then gradually increase the volume.
       
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    23. Bartoli

      Bartoli Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2009,worsened 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      @Bill Bauer,
      Thanks.
      From what you describe I estimate low 60's?
      I have an app on my phone but unsure if it's accurate though.
       
    24. PeteJ
      Depressed

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      Do you use plugs in the shower? If so, what kind?

      I can't wear earplugs or hearing protection for very long - even muffs cause ear discomfort after a minute. My ears have become abnormal. I wish I bought noise cancelling headphones because it would offer another option.

      I dunno if the noise around me worsened my tinnitus but I couldn't move because of finances and hearing protection resulted in increased ear pain. Now, the tinnitus is so loud, hearing protection means nothing is masking and I am tortured by isolation of the loud tones.
       
    25. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I used to take baths (instead of showers). Then I switched to using plugs in the shower (3M 1100 plugs). Nowadays I don't use the plugs.
      Possibly mid 60s. Nowadays it might be high 60s.
       
    26. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Foam earplugs don't work for the shower. Ideally, you want a swimmer's earplug to block water, or in a pinch, a pair of silicone earplugs.
       
    27. Bartoli

      Bartoli Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2009,worsened 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      On purpose? For the sake of desensitizing your hearing?
       
    28. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      It is basically at the level where it used to be before I got tinnitus. I got there gradually. At first it seemed too loud and I found the volume that was the loudest it could be before it began to feel like it was too loud. Over the course of 2 years, I have been gradually increasing this volume. Now that I can handle moderate noises that seem to be reasonable to me, I no longer try to increase the volume. I don't think I will ever use a hair dryer or a lawn mower. I plan to eventually try to use a vacuum cleaner (while wearing hearing protection), but I will give myself a little more time before I attempt that.
       
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    29. Bartoli

      Bartoli Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2009,worsened 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      People are moving away from petrol mowers anyway. It's a tedious job even without the noise. Personally I'm looking at buying a Robomower once spring comes around. That takes care of that AND it mulches so we won't have to dispose of the grass clippings. I take it you know there are vacuumbots out there doing essentially the same?

      I tried measuring my TV set with the app and it sits around 45/50 dB. Yes I can easily hold a conversation over it with my wife but I have a suspicion my dB meter app might be off. This is her choice of volume btw, i.e. normal so to speak.

      I can imagine the numerous dB apps working better on iOS because they know what microphones are in iPhones. For android it's gonna be worse with all the brands and suppliers with different mics and their sensitivities. But apart from having been a musician I have no real knowledge on this, other than knowing there are many sorts of microphones with different pickup patterns and sensitivities. I try to "play it by ear" mostly when gauging dB levels.
       
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