Hyperacusis & Tinnitus — Can 60-80 dB Sound Levels Cause More Damage?

Discussion in 'Support' started by GeorgeLG, Jun 14, 2021.

    1. GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      I had a lifetime of loud noises. Played guitar in a rock band, competitive shooting, construction tools, concerts. Invincible, right? I started wearing ear protection in the later years but I would mess up once and a while. Too lazy to grab the phones and BAM that screeching saw was way too loud! I am still a musician but recording alone at home. I recently began noticing some dullness in one ear after long headphone mixing sessions, thought it was an ear infection because the same thing happened if I slept on that side. It never occurred to me that it might be hearing damage. I know I had hearing loss of at least high frequencies because of speaker testing experiences, couldn’t hear the sweep above around 7 kHz anymore. Developed hip and leg pain (possibly from my cancer treatments) and took a 6 day course of oral steroids. Shortly after I finished I developed serious light sensitivity. The eye doctor found nothing except poor tearing and suggested high end eye drops. Same strategy here, don’t overdo protection or it will get worse. This is now better, Needs management but tolerable.

      I operated a leaf blower up near my head for about 5 seconds without my ear protection recently and 15 minutes later, tinnitus set in. Over the next few days so did ear pain and hyperacusis. Most of the same stuff I have read here, normal daily noises hurt and make me miserable. Certain frequencies, sounds seem distorted. Everything I enjoy requires my ears. Watching movies, recording, listening to music, building and testing speakers. Can’t do any of that now except guitar practice with an unplugged electric played very softly.

      I am now fully read up on sound levels, exposure times, cumulative effects, damage, hearing protection, etc. How many of us wish we had all this knowledge before we got here? Most of us have pain, increased tinnitus episodes, etc at sound levels way below the magic “safe” limits (75/80/82/85 dB depending on what you read). I’m shocked at how low everything needs to be to stay comfortable. I know that sound training with white or pink noise is used to bring tolerance up and I intend to explore that further. My question is: am I doing damage and making this worse with sound levels, say in the 60-75 dB range, because now that hurts me or do the same old limits still apply, I’m just uncomfortable but not making things worse? In other words, can I push through sounds below 80 dB to get on with life or do I need to recalibrate what is safe for me? Does that answer change after sound therapy to raise tolerance?

      Thanks,
      George
       
    2. markdubby

      markdubby Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      March 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      loud music + headphone use
      I am wondering the same. I mainly have sensitivity to certain frequencies rather than loudness (plates and shower make my ear flutter and give me slight discomfort) and am wondering if this is actually damaging my ears.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Exit

      Exit Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise
      The answer by most ENTs is same level as healthy ears...

      If noise caused your trouble I would say 80 dB at a nasty frequency easily could hurt you/give you more rings.
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      And what if levels under 80 dB cause more ringing/tinnitus?

      George
       
    5. Tau
      In pain

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      I would say avoid loud sounds.

      I hurt my ears more by doing a frequency sweep and upping the volume when I could not hear it. Might have been 80-90 dB. Now all music is distorted.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Whilst ENT doctors know about the anatomy of the ear and underlying medical conditions associated with it that can cause tinnitus. Most (but not all) know very little about noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis and the way some sounds, that are much lower than 80 dB, can in some cases make tinnitus and hyperacusis worse. ENT doctors treat the underlying medical condition causing the tinnitus, medically or surgically, but they do not treat tinnitus. This is most apparent with noise induced tinnitus with or without hyperacusis.

      Hyperacusis is usually but not always caused by noise induced tinnitus. A person that has these conditions needs to understand the auditory system has been compromised. Although it is possible to make a good recovery with or without specialist treatment with the help of an Audiologist, it is never quite the same as before. Therefore, the belief once a person recovers or habituates their auditory system is the same as people with healthy ears, I assure you is not true.

      Michael
       
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    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      I have noticed that not all sounds are created equal now and certain frequencies or sound profiles are worse than others even at the same and previously same volume.

      Given this, what guidelines do you follow to protect your hearing now?


      George
       
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Your comments are true and are most noticeable when a person is new to noise induced tinnitus with or without hyperacusis. When habituation happens, certain sounds and frequencies that you mention, will not be so much of a problem and in most instances will go away completely, providing hyperacusis has been treated with or without specialist treatment. Habituation can take up to 18 months and longer.

      Regarding how I protect my hearing now? I only use hearing protection when using noisy electric power tools, or using my petrol lawn mower and grass strimmer. I do not use earplugs to suppress normal everyday sounds. I know some people do this because their ears are oversensitive to sound. If hyperacusis is treated there is no reason to use earplugs in this way. This practice can make the ears more sensitive to sound, as there's a risk of lowering the loudness threshold of the auditory system making it more sensitive to sound.

      When a person has noise induced tinnitus, the way to protect ears is to not use any type of headphones even at low volume, and keep away from overly loud sounds. Use earplugs correctly and not to suppress normal everyday sounds.

      Please go to my started threads and read my post: Hyperacusis, As I see it.

      All the best.
      Michael

      Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      The Habituation Process | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      Michael,

      Thank you. I am only 3 weeks in. At this stage what is your advice on how to determine when to use hearing protection so as to not cause further damage but also stay exposed to healthy sound levels and not induce further sensitivity out of fear? I am finding that some noise, say around 7x dB, causes my tinnitus to flare up and the headaches to start again. I am read up on sound thresholds for healthy ears but I can't imagine 85 dB for 8 hours right now, or 88 dB for 4 hours, ....

      George
       
    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      The onset of tinnitus can be quite daunting so I know how you feel. Your auditory system has suffered an acoustic trauma and it will take time to recover. Providing you're not experiencing deafness or problems with balance, I don't think your ears have suffered any long term damage. They will recover but it's important that you don't make your symptoms worse.

      I see on your profile there is a picture of an electric guitar and headphones. My advice is not to use headphones, earbuds or headsets even at low volume. If possible, never use them again as you risk making the tinnitus worse, but it's your choice. I advise taking time out and not playing the guitar in a band to give your ears a rest. See how you feel over the next three months. As your ears begin to recover you could try playing the instrument to keep in practice.

      I will be honest with you and sorry to sound so sobering: loud music and loud sounds do not go well with noise induced tinnitus. Don't think wearing earplugs, even custom made types, means you will be one hundred percent safe because this isn't true. If external sound is too loud, it will pass through your head and transfer to your inner ear by bone conduction and could spike the tinnitus. If you are fortunate, the tinnitus will reduce to its previous baseline level, or it could increase to a new permanent one.

      This is the unfortunate reality of noise induced tinnitus. It is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly because things can change very fast. Please read the post that I have given you in the link: Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? It will equip you with information that I think, will help you not make mistakes that could make your tinnitus worse.

      If you are using a sound level meter to monitor sound levels, my advice is to stop using it. They often instill fear and negative thinking and it will make your recovery more difficult.

      The early stages of tinnitus can be difficult but this will pass and will get easier. All you need to do is read the posts in the links that I have given you. Try not to read too much about tinnitus and hyperacusis online. Take things slowly and one day at a time. Click on the links below and read the posts. If possible print my posts and not read them on a phone or a computer monitor. The articles are long so you need to take time and read them to absorb the information. Refer to them often and you will realize the benefits of this. Use low level sound enrichment at night and not sleep in a quiet room. More about this is explained in my articles.

      Please do not worry about using hearing protection at the moment. Only use it as advised in my post: Hyperacusis, As I See It, in the link I have given you.

      All the best,
      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      Michael,

      Thank you, I will read your articles. My avatar is more of an artistic expression of the fact that I can’t play right now. I don’t play live anymore so I have total control over my exposure. Right now I am practicing on an electric guitar with no amplifier and musicians earplugs to dampen the offensive frequencies. It’s very soft but even that raises my tinnitus. Not as much as driving though.

      George
       
    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      My advice is not to play the guitar and give your ears a rest. I know it's not easy but if you want to help yourself this is what you need to do.

      Even though you are wearing earplugs, the sound is passing through your head and being transferred to your inner ear by bone conduction. You have a noise trauma and it will take time to recover.

      Take care.
      Michael
       
    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @GeorgeLG, I suggest that you start taking Magnesium tablets as it helps repair nerves throughout the body. Follow the recommended dosage on the bottle. The auditory system consists of many nerves. I was advised to take it by a herbalist 25 years ago, when I developed noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis.

      I was also told to take Ginkgo Biloba. I believe they helped to improve my hearing and the tinnitus. I took magnesium for 2 years and still take Ginkgo Biloba. My ENT doctor at the time said this was good advice and recommends it to his tinnitus patients.
       
    14. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GeorgeLG
      Lonely

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower after yrs of rock guitar, constr & comp shooting
      That’s good advice. I have been studying the biochemistry of the human body and the effects of deficiency for 30 years, starting with some health problems that doctors could not help me with or where I wanted an alternative to a lifetime of dangerous drugs. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzyme processes and nerve functions and America’s are chronically deficient. I obtained dramatic proof of the magnesium and potassium link to my problem quite by accident with electrolyte supplemented water on the golf course 25 years ago. It’s quite a story. I am now doing the same General research for this problem and Magnesium came up again as it often does. If you are deficient it can also cause anxiety, panic attacks and sleep problems which so many of the members talk about here. I have already found that lack of sleep and stress make my tinnitus worse or at least I notice it more. The effects of any supplementation are always the most profound if you have a deficiency as I discovered 30 years ago. Mega dosing anything by guessing can be dangerous or as a minimum, cause new problems. Magnesium is one of the safer ones because we do not store the excess like say fat soluble vitamins. Others like vitamin A or Zinc can cause problems at high levels.

      I’m learning that there are a number of deficiency issue linked to tinnitus, a few of which have studies with data. I have learned at a minimum that these deficiencies can make us susceptible to damage in the first place or are theorized to have the greatest benefit if corrected soon after the damage from loud noises or ototoxicity. Some correction may even have benefit long after even if not as likely. B12 has some documentation to that effect, lowering subjective tinnitus in deficient patients. One of the most studied is Glutathione deficiency which is natural as we age because we can’t synthesis it as efficiently as when we were younger. Glutathione is an antioxidant and one of the most important for the inner ear. Deficiency allows more oxidative stress damage in the weeks following a loud damaging exposure. I see this one discussed in threads here. It’s less clear how much this can help us long after like most of us here. I am currently thinking that it might at least help with reinjury. One of the problems with some deficiencies like B12 and Glutathione is that it can be more complicated to correct than just taking some. There are absorption issues as well as conversion issues because of lack of cofactors available for the conversions and properly functioning enzyme processes. Glutathione is an example where NAC is better absorbed and so is used to raise Glutathione status to help oxidative stress in the inner ear because it is a precursor. There are 3 amino acids needed along with cofactors for your body to get the job done. One study showed that in older patients they are also deficient in Glycine so that study administered NAC (Cysteine) with Glycine and blood tests confirmed everything coming up to 25 year old levels. One of the cofactors to the conversion from NAC and Glycine to Glutathione is B2 so your B vitamins are important as well. The military has tested NAC with verified results. I intend to write up my findings here when I get through the first wave of research because there is more: Ginkgo Biloba, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, vitamin E, ...

      I am not advocating any magic cure and know how much people here suffer and how much snake oil there is out there. I try to stick with studies and science or at least a biochemical mechanisms that makes sense. Correcting deficiencies can be uneventful but if you hit on one that matters it can be life changing like it was for my heart arrhythmia 25 years ago. I have no qualifications in treating tinnitus or hyperacusis, nutritional counseling or medicine so always seek the advice of professionals and be prepared for some medical doctors to get downright nasty when you bring up “natural” cures that don’t involve pharmaceutical drugs. Ask me how I know. Fortunately many are open minded and some even want to learn. Few understand the natural biochemistry of the human body, that’s not the tool kit they were given. It does appear that this is different in some other countries like Germany. For now I am making sure that my magnesium, B12 and Glutathione status up to par while I finish my research.

      Thanks for trying to help me.

      George
       
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