How to Get Rid of the Fear of Going Outside as a Tinnitus Sufferer?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Gabriel5050, Jul 30, 2021.

    1. Gabriel5050

      Gabriel5050 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure (most likely)
      I am afraid of going outside, or more precisely, of the loud expected and unexpected noises that await outside. I think I am one of the bad cases of tinnitus, or at least a bad case of phonophobia. I don't feel pain from sounds per say, but my tinnitus has increased from sounds steadily with time.

      The inability of going outside more often is interfering with my life and I want to know if anyone had this reluctance of going outside and managed to get past it. How do you succeed of moving through this loud world with your tinnitus? Do you always use hearing protection? Then how do you communicate with people if you can't hear them properly - Do you just nod your head and hope that works and move on? Ideally I would like to just go outside via cars to wherever I need and spend time indoors in places like shops, malls, restaurants, etc.

      Not doing so is not really an option for me. I either manage to live a semblance of a normal life or end up homeless... Ok not in the immediate future, but that would be the path. I want to adopt an attitude of "live or die trying" but I don't know if I have the strength to do this. I don't know if I can battle this tinnitus beast that has been punishing me for years.

      So I want to know how tinnitus sufferers deal with living in society. Especially if there are any people who became afraid of noise and then managed to adjust back to functioning again. Work. School. Shopping. Social gatherings. All in spite of raging tinnitus. Nothing is too mundane or too obvious to be mentioned, so responses welcome.
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    2. Ken219

      Ken219 Member

      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      @Gabriel5050, avoid loud events even with earplugs. If you hear a loud sound, example motorcycles, use your fingers to plug your ears! Always carry earplugs for unexpected long duration of loud sounds. Pray for a better treatment or cure.
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    3. tracyNYC

      tracyNYC Member Benefactor

      NY NY
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009-2020 habituated; 1/2021 - severe
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise; hearing loss
      My tinnitus is severe (10/10 and 24/7, 365 days a year), and I'll find any excuse to stay inside and not risk a noise incident. I'm thiiiiis close to becoming a hermit. But I force myself out, even though it's not particularly enjoyable.

      When I'm by myself, I always use foam earplugs (skull screws), inserted halfway (or so). That allows some noise in (necessary with my tinnitus and for safety reasons), but it takes the edge off and also avoids occlusion. I'll fully insert them when necessary (police sirens, idiots with portable Bluetooth speakers, etc.). Yeah, it can be a challenge to walk one block. If someone says "hi" or "nice shirt" (or whatever!) I usually hear them, and I'll nod and say "hi" or "thanks!" - low voice, plugs in. Replies over two words, and the plugs come out, and I pray it's a quick conversation.

      I rarely wear earplugs when I'm in the park or on a quiet side street, to give my ears a break from all that plugging and to avoid becoming even more sensitive to sounds. I enjoy those moments. I feel free... if that makes sense.

      It's rare these days, but if I'm out with a friend and can't wear the earplugs - can't talk with them in -- I'll use my fingers to plug my ears when necessary.

      I haven't been in a large social gathering since my tinnitus worsened, but I will avoid loud restaurants, bars, clubs, movie theaters, Broadway shows (musicals), headphones, and -- oh, this really hurts -- concerts. My life is forever changed, and this what I can do to help myself. Or at least I think I'm helping myself. But there are some things I just can't avoid. I have to travel (fly) this year, I'm on the subway, and will be on trains and in Ubers, and walking all over the city -- doing what I need to do. My earplugs are at the ready and my fingers are crossed.
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    4. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      I have gone from spending at times 7 - 10 days at home without leaving, when hyperacusis was severe, to going out everyday, making exercise, and having quite a normal life, with a few limitations.

      To do this you just need to build confidence progressively, find spaces where you feel comfortable, and try to do things that you will be ok with. So of course don't rush to the first rock concert haha.. you have to try to do simple stuff, and go step by step.

      You mentioned "shopping"; ok, let's give that a try. You just have to know at which times the place you are going to is less crowded, and the PA system is at a lower volume, and of course you have to go to a place where you can park, without needing to set foot on the street.

      Second thing: you need to wear at all times hearing protection, at least earplugs.[/B ]I use flesh coloured foam earplugs. People do not notice them at all. My case was different. Due to my hyperacusis I could hear perfectly through the earplugs (and also through earmuffs on top). I could hear normal conversation with double protection and my back turned to people talking... so it was pretty extreme.

      Once you start going out, for instance shopping for groceries, or going to buy clothes, you will find your own path, depending on your own individual reaction and sensitivity to noise.

      I also suggest to sit on a quiet terrace, if the place where you live has that sort of option. Sitting by the sea, or just at a quiet street, in the sun, is very relaxing. There are places where there isn't that much noise. Try to limit the time you do this at the beginning, until you build confidence.

      I would try cycling too, in a quiet place, like a promenade, park etc (NOT near traffic). Even if you encounter noise it will be easier to just pedal faster and get away from it.

      Gabriel, I hope you improve soon and are able to do a lot more things, and go out of course, meet people, do exercise, live a life as normal as possible.
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    5. defender

      defender Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma or some problem in the nervous system
      Very good advice Juan.
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    6. aot

      aot Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016. Worsened 11/2019.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably sound induced, worsened due to noise expouse + flu.
      I wear earplugs whenever I go out.
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    7. kingsfan

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      I go out all the time. road trips, shopping, hiking. I wear lower rated, inconspicuous earplugs (Earasers) and keep foam plugs in my pocket. I'm trying to work up the courage to not wear earplugs so much. Do I really need them on a short drive on surface streets? In Target? I'm not sure. I didn't wear earplugs at all until and audiologist made things worse. I'll probably never go to a bar or club again.
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