How to Quantify the Loudness of One’s Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Mark62, Sep 6, 2021.

    1. Mark62

      Mark62 Member

      Location:
      Midwest, United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/25/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noisy van?
      It’s been about six weeks since the introduction of my noise-induced tinnitus into my left ear. I believe its loudness has remained unchanged from the time of the noise incident, which to me, is becoming concerning.

      I’m wondering, is there a way to quantify the loudness of one’s tinnitus?

      For example, is there a noise app that one can use to see if their tinnitus loudness matches a particular sound level (dB)? Or maybe a noise generating app used in combination with a sound meter device, so that the sound level from the noise generating app can be measured as one measures the level of their tinnitus?

      Also, I see the terms ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’ tinnitus used often in the forums. Is there some sort of working understanding on how these various levels of tinnitus loudness are defined? If tinnitus loudness can be quantified as a sound level (dB), are there some guidelines on how ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’ tinnitus levels are defined?

      Thanks,
      Mark
       
    2. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I think it's difficult to measure a specific decibel of the tinnitus. I hear mine outside, in environments of moderate nosie, and that's because I have some frequencies which are very high, and those cut through everything, but I wouldn't consider the volume louder than the environment I'm in. If you find an environment that masks your tinnitus, then that could be used in the future to see the progression; if it worsens, the same environment may not mask the sound anymore, for example.

      The loudness we hear is in my opinion pretty objective, but how we deal with it makes tinnitus a subjective condition. When people use the terms 'mild', 'moderate' and 'severe' it's a subjective evaluation of how intrusive the tinnitus is. Just to roughly define them; mild tinnitus bother you minimally, moderate may bother you throughout the day but can be dealt with, while severe tinnitus can be very hard to deal with and can be debilitating. Since it's subjective, I find it pretty easy to define myself as a moderate case in terms of loudness, but my hyperacusis and reactivity is pretty debilitating.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Stacken
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mark62

      Mark62 Member

      Location:
      Midwest, United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/25/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noisy van?
      @Stacken77, thank you for your reply. I perceive that the tinnitus in my left ear is very loud. Louder than it has ever been, including from the time of the initial noise trauma. I went to a wedding two days ago and someone inadvertently shouted into my bad ear, despite my best attempts to keep it protected. I guess I was a fool to go to the wedding. Right now, I’m having a very, very hard time dealing with it. In your experience, does something like this get ever improve? I’m not sure I could survive long-term at the loudness level.

      Thanks,
      Mark
       
    4. David S

      David S Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      @Mark62, this is, as @Stacken77 already pointed out, very subjective. However, how I see it, there is a clear correlation between how severe your tinnitus is and how long it takes to habituate.

      Typically I would define it like this:

      Mild tinnitus: you only hear it in a quiet room seeking for it.

      Moderate tinnitus: you hear it above everyday sounds if you focus on the tinnitus. However, it is possible for you most of the times to mask the tinnitus by listing to radio, TV or just go out for a walk.

      And finally here is the ingredients for the more severe tinnitus: hard to mask in daily life. Not even driving in a car or flying on an airplane. Your tinnitus is normally only masked by the shower. The tinnitus is not a pure tone and it seems to change a lot. Buzzing, crickets, high pitched tones etc. Your tinnitus is affected by external sounds. Either by responding with physical pain or trying to trump the external sound. It could also react with sound distortions.

      I lived a good life for a long time with severe tinnitus but every time it makes a big change, my limbic part of my brain wants to to this "fight of flight" game again. I am so dead tired of it...
       
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    5. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I'm very sorry to hear that, Mark. You may suffer a spike in your bad ear due to the wedding, but it can definitely improve. I think the general consensus is that spikes can last anywhere from a few minutes to months. I'd wait a few weeks before starting to worry. My tinnitus is sadly extremely reactive, and even conversations of an hour or two can spike me for days, but it usually recedes. My advice would be to be very careful with sound from now on and always utilize single or double protection in public. I would also avoid loud events for the rest of my life, that would include weddings. It's sad, but it's the reality of the situation. At the same time, it's important to not utilize protection 24/7 as that can make us more sensitive. Protect! - but try to not over-protect.
      You're pretty early on in your journey, as I am too, but I can assure you that you will be able to handle this better with time, even if it doesn't improve. If the tinnitus just doesn't straight up gets progressively worse from everyday business, I think habituation eventually will kick in, even if the tinnitus is borderline severe, although it may take a very long time. If your ears tolerate it, put on a record and just dance - life is still so beautiful.

      So hang in there, we have to persevere this crap.

      I wish you all the best,
      Stacken
       
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    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mark62

      Mark62 Member

      Location:
      Midwest, United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/25/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noisy van?
      @David S, thank you for your response. Clearly, I would say my tinnitus level is ‘severe’. It’s at the constant frequency of ‘crickets’ and I can only mask it with a shower. It’s unaffected by external sounds and there are no distortions.

      Have you found the level of your severe tinnitus to change over time? Perhaps decreasing in intensity? Would you say that you’ve been able to successfully habituate to it? Today, I’m finding this very, very difficult to take.

      Any words of advice that you would be willing to share would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks,
      Mark
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mark62

      Mark62 Member

      Location:
      Midwest, United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/25/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noisy van?
      @Stacken77, thank you Stacken for your words of encouragement. After reading a large number of the posts on this forum, I must say I have a tremendous amount of respect for the suffering that is described here. I’ve only been at this for six weeks. Folks such as yourself have been at it for months, years and even decades. From where I’m at right now, I view you people as ‘super human’. You all have my most profound and deepest respect. There is no way anybody could understand what this experience is like unless they were suffering from it. While this may not be a club that I would’ve voluntarily joined, now that I’m in it, I hope that I can improve enough so that I once again can enjoy life. If this were to happen, a ‘silver lining’ of being a member of the club would be a much greater appreciation for the sweetness of life.

      Thanks,
      Mark
       
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    8. David S

      David S Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      @Mark62, unfortunately I exactly know the feeling to well.

      I would say that I treated my tinnitus first time around reasonably well with:

      1. SSRI (Escitalopram) takes a great part of my panic emotions away.

      2. White noise generators. They only transmit 5-10 dB so I can possibly not do any harm. They slowly make your brain to accept your tinnitus but also take the edge off the sound.

      3. Sleep is essential, I used a soft Benzo (Zopiclone) on and off but never felt any dependency.

      I actually felt so good that I started to be stupid again (going out to nightclubs etc.).
      Now I think I have to do the whole process again. Hoping for a faster recovery this time.
       
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    9. Megatron

      Megatron Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2005
      Hi David,

      My name is Troels, I'm a 46-year-old male for Denmark - nice to meet you :)

      Yesterday I read one of your posts and I think that our condition is very similar - the section I refer to is this:
      I can see that you have used white noise generators - did it do any good?

      The reason why I ask is because my tinnitus also changes a lot like yours.

      How long have you had tinnitus and does it fluctuate a lot?

      I got mine 16 years ago and it recently started fluctuating a whole lot :(

      Hope to hear from you.

      Br Troels
       
    10. Tinker Bell

      Tinker Bell Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      SSHL from virus
      I’m always surprised to read people can mask their tinnitus in the shower. Can’t even imagine what that would be like. I do not think of showers as particularly loud. Maybe it’s the frequency.

      Does all running water mask it? If you run water in the kitchen sink, does it mask it as well?
       
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    11. David S

      David S Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Hi Troels, very nice meeting you as well :)

      I think reactive tinnitus could be the result of two things, or more likely a combination of the two.

      1. Damage to the cochlea. It's said that normally tinnitus caused by damage of the cochlea can last up to 6 months. After that it becomes something more brain related. My own personal belief is that it can stay cochlea based for a longer period of time.

      2. Tinnitus as a result of inferring muscles/nerves in the cheek and neck (TMJ). I never thought that I had any TMJ problems but then I saw a specialist who started to treat my neck and cheek. I could really feel how stiff and inflamed my muscles in that region were once they started to work hard on them. You could actually have TMJ without any major pain but with tinnitus as the only symptom. I can tell you that you will feel the pain once they start working on you if you have inflammation. Reason for the stiff/inflamed muscles would be a) bad posture sitting in front of a computer, b) stress in general, I always pull up my shoulders, c) a often forgotten thing is pockets around our teeth. It easy to get chronic inflammation there. Use dental floss until you are sure that no inflammation is hiding there.

      As you know, a lot of people have hearing loss without tinnitus or have minor tinnitus that your brain's plasticity takes care of in just a few months. There must be an X factor here. I am starting to believe that low level nerve and muscle inflammation plays a big role here. Eating anti-inflammatory diet with some fasting will also be something that I will try.

      Normally I think my reactiveness subsidized within 3-6 months but I never really healed out completely. I want to try something fundamentally different this time around.

      I also think that I benefited from an SSRI (Escitalopram) and sound enrichment last time around but I want to start a little different this time. I want to heal from the chronic inflammation. I am meeting a dietician soon as well.
       
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    12. T warrior

      T warrior Member

      Location:
      quebec city
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      don't have a clue
      I went to an audiologist who measured my tinnitus at 8 dB but it was in the morning and it is way worse at night.
       
    13. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      I accept other people's opinion, but to me, describing and categorizing what's severe/debilitating is close to impossible. This is clearly such a subjective matter.

      I hear my tinnitus over the shower any day, even on a good day. My tinnitus fluctuates a lot, but some tones are steady, and I hear them easily over the shower, in the car and so on. But as long as I don't have a real bad day, combined with the reactive tinnitus and sound sensitivity, I don't find this debilitating or severe. I had this for 17 years, and I was fully habituated for around 15 years.

      So, categorizing loudness and what is severe or not doesn't really make that much sense. That's just my opinion of course.

      @Tinker Bell: I don't think of a shower, when in the shower, as particularly loud either. And what you hear or not in regards to the tinnitus is a lot about the frequency and type of tinnitus sound you have. Not whether it's severe or not.
       
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    14. Tinker Bell

      Tinker Bell Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      SSHL from virus
      How did the audiologist measure it?
       
    15. T warrior

      T warrior Member

      Location:
      quebec city
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      don't have a clue
      She played a sound and I told her when it matched the loudness of my tinnitus. I guess it's not 100% accurate but it gives a rough idea.
       
    16. Damocles
      Spooky

      Damocles Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Hi @Megatron!

      I mean Troels*
       
    17. Wrfortiscue
      Provocative

      Wrfortiscue Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Trauma
      I think it’s both frequency and volume. My right ear whistles to it lol.
       
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    18. PeteJ
      Depressed

      PeteJ Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      The subjective nature might be the physical nature - number of tones, what we perceive or hear.

      But, volume is volume.

      The subjective part there might be condition of ears since we all have different ones.

      How I see it.
       
    19. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      My point is that the loudness of tinnitus volume alone doesn't necessarily mean anything to the perceived intrusiveness for an individual.

      The example with the shower, which has become an example many on the forum use in order to sort of measure intrusiveness, is in my opinion misinformative. Hearing tinnitus over the level of a shower doesn't necessarily equal debilitating tinnitus. That's my personal experience given I've had this "condition" for years...

      Individuals that are relatively new to tinnitus, and that hear it over the shower, shouldn't start worrying only upon the basis of this - thinking this is debilitating and severe - using this as a measure.
       
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    20. David S

      David S Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      I am sorry. I will not use this analogy again. I perfectly understand that you can habituate to a very intrusive sound not masked by pretty much anything. Personally, once my tinnitus changes a lot, as in reactiveness or change in general, it gets difficult for me.
       
    21. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      No worries. I agree @David S, that is difficult. I have challenges with the reactiveness too. It's a tricky part of this, and unpredictable at times.
       
    22. dan
      Chatty

      dan Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Toronto, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise
      Are you hearing impaired? If you've got some hearing loss, then that interferes with the shower's masking effect.
       
    23. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      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 had a spike a couple of weeks ago and I heard my tinnitus over the shower for the first time. It was definitely a scary and unpleasant experience. I know one day I will probably reach that level permanently, but I'm hoping that won't be for many years.
       
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    24. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      @kingsfan, I don't think you should worry about that being permanent; hearing the tinnitus over the shower. And even so, why is this more scary than hearing it in the car or whatever?

      I heard my tinnitus in the shower as long as I can remember, and never related this to something in particular intrusive. Some parts of tinnitus, not all of course, is really much down to subjectivity, and how one perceive it and our reaction to the sound. I don't give it much attention really in the shower, because there are a lot of other external sounds to focus on when showering.

      But I do get it might feel scary being the first time, bit imo it's not worse than any other tinnitus.
       
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    25. Ava Lugo
      Gloomy

      Ava Lugo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/03/19
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus
      I guess your tinnitus is very similar to mine then where you don’t have to ever look for it to hear it over stuff. It’s just very clearly there and kind of in your face. I’m having a real hard time with reactive tinnitus riding on top of external sounds everyday. I have to deal with it at work too. I’m almost 2 years in with unmaskable reactive tinnitus and distortions and if it’s getting any better I can’t tell, maybe a little bit, I have plenty of days where it seems just as loud as it was when I first got it. I still get distortions with music and TV which is very devastating. I still hear some distortion or I could say reactive tinnitus along with voices when people talk to me too. I try sound therapy everyday all day except when I’m at work.

      I haven’t heard of too many people habituating to unmaskable intrusive reactive tinnitus that rides on top of everything so it’s hard for me to think I’ll ever get my life back.
       
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    26. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      @Ava Lugo, I understand you fully as I have all these symptoms, or what you may call it, as you.

      I've had reactiveness and hyperacusis for just about 2 years (tinnitus for almost 2 decades).

      Things have changed a lot during these 2 years - very slowly and non-linear - but for the better. With counselling, working with myself and my reaction to the situation, sound enrichment, and slowly introduce everyday life again.

      I am not "cured", by no means. But I just wanted to tell you that there is hope, also with the distortions, the reactiveness and so on.

      You can "get your life back".
       
    27. Tau
      In pain

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      @MindOverMatter, would you say that the distortions and reactivity are objectively lower? Or that you don't react to them as much? I am suffering from those and they are only getting worse. I am 3 months in.
       
    28. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      @Tau, I would say both. It's slowly getting better, but I also react less to it.

      That doesn't mean I don't have really bad days, or what I would prefer to say; challenging days. I do.

      But all in all, there is a major progression looking 2 years back. I am able to enjoy a lot of things again, and be grateful - which is so important to live a good life.
       
    29. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      Just for the fact that I have some set coping strategies that didn't seem to work during the spike.
       
    30. Marcuso22

      Marcuso22 Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud prolonged exposure to alarm system
      So what then makes it severe in your opinion? Can't a frequency of tinnitus have different intensity to it that changes daily or hourly? I get severe spikes some that are almost unbearable. I have reactive tinnitus & some hyperacusis more so with right ear than left. I can't sleep without taking benzos & when my sleep is interrupted I can't get back to sleep if it's past four hours of sleep. 9 months after the incident I don't see any improvement at all.
       
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