I'm Worried about My Sister

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by tinstrugglebus, May 21, 2013.

    1. tinstrugglebus

      tinstrugglebus Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Hi all. I don't know if I have a place on this forum since I don't have tinnitus but my sister does. I am very concerned about her physical and mental health since she developed tinnitus last summer as a result of a water skiing incident. She was always an anxious person but the tinnitus has made her so much worse. She has trouble sleeping, doing normal everyday things, and especially performing well in school. I want to help her learn how to cope with this condition while she has it. I feel like I'm losing my sister as she anxiously retreats further into herself with her tinnitus (if that makes any sense). I love her and I was wondering if you think that there is anything I could do to help her or anything she could do to cope with this ringing that is driving her crazy. Thank you.
    2. Deep

      Deep Member

      Hello there! Sorry to hear this, I can completely understand, I also (like your sister) distance myself away from other people when I am down about my Tinnitus. How old is she? She needs to gradually start looking into habituation techniques, there are a lot of therapies that can help reduce her anxiety, these will also help reduce her Tinnitus (they come as a package). In addition there are lots of alternative treatments that she could look into, for example specific nutrients that have been found to reduce the volume for some people. Does she mask here Tinnitus with other sounds when she sleeps? She may want to look into doing this. I cannot really expand much further without more info but thanks for explaining your situation and I wish all the best for you and your sis. Let me know if you have any other questions or want me to expand on certain elements.

      • Like Like x 2
    3. Karen

      Karen Manager Staff Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      First time: Noise 2nd Time: Ototoxic drug
      Hi, Tinstrugglebus, and welcome!

      I'm so sorry your sister is struggling with tinnitus, and it is very kind and caring of you to want to help her. One of the main things you can do is what you're already doing --- be there for her! Even though you're not coping with tinnitus yourself, you can show that you are concerned, and that you understand and take her problems seriously. Many of us with tinnitus feel we are facing this totally alone, and appreciate having a person to whom we can turn for comfort, who will listen to us. Your sister is lucky to have a sister like you; be that support person!

      A question: Has your sister been to a doctor to rule out any medical problems that could be causing her tinnitus? Did she suffer any other injuries when she had that water skilling incident? Could she have hurt her neck or her back? Maybe it was something that happened at the time of that accident that set off the tinnitus.

      A doctor might be able to help her with her anxiety and/or sleep issues, too.

      If you've already tried that and were not able to find anything out from the doctor, you could try reading some of the posts on this forum, and perhaps suggesting she join us, too. She could try some of the supplements, remedies, and other suggestions on this site that might help her to cope better.

      Sleep is really important, and if she can find something that will help her sleep, she'll begin to feel a lot better, and able to do better at school, too.

      I'm sure other members on this forum will have additional suggestions. Thanks for sharing, and we're here to help and support all members who are struggling with tinnitus. We care!
      • Like Like x 2
    4. mick

      mick Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      I assume your sister has seen an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor). If not that would probably be the first step though we all know that ENTs are not that helpful with regular tinnitus. Since your sister's tinnitus is due to an accident which I'm guessing may have damaged her ear drum, then there may be something an ENT can do. If the injury and tinnitus are relatively new, then she might want to look into hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) or perhaps some steroid treatments, depending on what the injury actually did. HBOT in particular has been shown to be helpful in cases where the inner ear hair cells have been damaged from sound trauma. The extra oxygen helps keep the cells from dying off so that they may eventually recover. Talking magnesium and zinc have proven to be somewhat helpful to reducing the volume of tinnitus. No cures, but many things can help reduce the annoyance. Different things work for different people, however, so it is never easy to figure what is the best for anyone in particular. Its just trial and error.

      If the tinnitus is due to a significant hearing loss then hearing aids can definitely help. An ENT and audiologist can help there. Of course, no one looks forward to wearing hearing aids, but any relief from the extreme annoyance can improves one's outlook immensely and that can count for a lot even if they hate the idea of wearing hearing aids.

      After that I would suggest masking therapy. While it doesn't do anything to correct the problem, it at least makes it more bearable which may help get her out of the funk that it sounds like she is in. There are lots of different kind of masking aids - anything from dedicated sound machines that make white noise, brown noise, pink noise sounds, as well as water and wind sounds, to CDs and MP3s with nature sounds (birds, rain, crickets,...). I myself found these MP3s very helpful: http://mytinnitusmasking.com/downloads-2/index.html. Also these: http://simplynoise.com/. Just make sure if she uses earbuds or headphones to keep the volume low. The volume should be just loud enough to barely cover the tinnitus sounds. Another thing she can do if she is having trouble sleeping is to listen to soothing music or perhpas an audio book. Many people find it difficult to read when they first get T, but most don't have a problem listening to an audo book.

      Next up would be just being there for her to support and encourage her to do her best to ignore the annoyance and keep busy. Most people habituate to their tinnitus with time. The time for habitation varies, however, and it may actually take a couple of years. Most people, however, become used to the sound before then. As someone who has only recently got to the point after nearly 7 months where I can now go for a few hours without the sound bothering me, I remember very well how incredibly derpressing and anxiety producing it is to not be able to find the "off switch" for the incessant ringing. At the start I simply did not believe that I could ever get used to the noise, but with time I have (though it still bothers me more than a few times a day). Providing encouraging for her to hang on and believe it will get better with time is one of the best things you can do.

      If your sister is experiencing great anxiety from her tinnitus, then she may want to see a doctor about taking an SSRI, or antianxiety medication. I would not recommend any benzodiazepines unless the anxiety is out of control, but many people find great relief through them. Benzos are tricky and can lead to other problems particularly when it comes time to withdraw from them. Pregabalin (Lyrica) is another drug that some have found helpful, and it is not addictive like benzos.

      Lastly, I would encourage her to join Tinnitus Talk herself. There is a lot of good information in this forum, and plenty of people who have been through it all, or who are still in the midst of it, who are willing and wanting to lend help and encouragement. There is quite a bit going on research-wise with tinnitus, and just keeping up-to-date with that by plugging into this forum and becoming aware that a successful treatment may not be that far away can be comforting.
      • Like Like x 3
    5. tinstrugglebus

      tinstrugglebus Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      I'm really happy to find people here that can relate to my sister. You and the others who replied to my post give me hope that, mentally, she can get through this. She is 16 years old. As I understand, she is quite young to have developed this condition. I would like to look into these because her anxiety only exacerbates the situation. I will also look into those nutrients.

      Also, she does blow a fan on her face as she sleeps and she uses this fan while doing pretty much everything in the house. She really is beginning to dislike even leaving the house since she doesn't have that fan to distract her outside. She's getting better sleeping but she has good and bad days.

      I just wish this would go away. I don't want to see her suffer :/
      Thank you, Deep!
    6. tinstrugglebus

      tinstrugglebus Member

      Tinnitus Since:

      Thank you for your reply! I appreciate your kind words. My sister has been to several doctors and we are going to another ENT this week. She has even been to an allergist because her pediatrician said that her allergies may contribute to an intensity in the ringing. When her head is clogged, as it often is since she is prone to getting colds, she says her ringing gets worse.

      She also has had ear problems since she was a baby. Right from birth she had complications with her ears and there were always problems there. I think the water skiing incident just set something off that may have always been dormant.

      I would really like to suggest this forum to her. You are all so helpful and caring! I really feel like she would benefit from talking to others who are suffering from the same condition.
      Thanks again!
    7. Hudson

      Hudson Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:

      If it makes her feel any better I first got tinnitus when I was 17. I'm 27 now. I worried about it for about a half a year to a year (I honestly can't remember) but when I started hanging out with my friends, staying busy and not focusing on it, I felt better and habituated to it. I can remember not wanting to read before bed anymore because the tinnitus distracted me while I read. I remember one day just being tired of worrying about it and read anyway. I found that I got pretty involved with my books, and did not notice the tinnitus at all. Other times I can remember worrying about it back then were when I would go camping with my friends (how will I sleep in the tent with no fan noise?). That never ended up being a problem though, and I habituated to it.

      The important thing is to remember that even though you habituate to the sound, that does not mean you become complacent. If she goes to a bar or concert, have her pop in some ear plugs. I wore ear plugs to prom. I remember thinking "what will people think of me wearing ear plugs? I'll look so weird" and no one said a damn thing. It turns out we aren't the center of the world sometimes like we think we are. :)

      My suggestion to her would be to get out and hang out with her friends and stay busy with school as much as possible. The worst part of tinnitus is laying around thinking that staying inside away from everything will make you feel better with time. The opposite is true. You need to get out and distract yourself. After some time, you realize the sound is there and you just don't care. You think of it as normal.

      On a side note, you can tell her to get some swimmer's ear plugs if she goes swimming or wake boarding again. I always use those. I hope for the best for her, I really do. On the bright side, she's young, and they'll probably have meaningful treatments for tinnitus by the time she's a little older. That's not much comfort now, but staying busy and getting on with things is the most important thing to do (if she's already gone to see the ENT to rule out any other causes).
      • Like Like x 5
    8. tinstrugglebus

      tinstrugglebus Member

      Tinnitus Since:

      Your suggestions make me very hopeful. I will discuss these various options with my sister to see what we can do next. Shes already undergone the steroid treatments and the vitamins. I have read a bit about HBOT and that might be a good route to take. We also have discussed going to a psychiatrist/psychologist for her anxiety to find ways to cope.

      I want to tell her that people habituate to the noise, but at the same time I don't want her to feel like there's no chance of it getting better. It seems like it would be better for her to learn how to live with it rather than being frustrated that it won't disappear.

      Thanks, Mick!
    9. tinstrugglebus

      tinstrugglebus Member

      Tinnitus Since:

      I really want her to get out and do things to occupy her time in places other than the house. I think that would be a really great way to distract her from the ringing. However, in a strange way, I think the tinnitus has given her more of an excuse to stay inside and remove herself from everyone and everything. The anxiety makes it even harder for her to get outside and do things that might make her confront loud noises. This is especially true of the movies. We used to go out to the movies 1-3 times a week with my father. Now, she won't go at all. Is it true that the loud noise of the movie theater is bothersome? She was describing a movie trailer to me the other day and she said that she would love to go see this movie. When I asked her if she would go to the theater to see it, she excitedly said yes. So I feel like she sometimes uses the tinnitus as an excuse to not leave the house and play her video games. I'm honestly confused. I know that she has a real problem, but sometimes I don't know if it's as crippling as it appears.

      Thank you!

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