Intrusive Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Nov 26, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Intrusive Tinnitus

      I believe the majority of members at tinnitustalk have intrusive tinnitus, me included otherwise I don’t think we would be here. Although my tinnitus is intrusive its intensity is variable from: silent, mild, moderate and severe. I should mention that I have fully habituated. Habituating to tinnitus will be different for everyone, for it will depend on what’s causing it and a person’s approach to life and whether they have a negative or positive outlook. Please don’t be alarmed, this isn’t going to be another positivity post for I and others have said plenty on the subject.

      Some people have learned to manage their tinnitus quite well and visit TT to try and help others, for they know how debilitating this condition can be and the impact it can have on one’s life and those closest to them when it’s loud and intrusive. I believe some of the best advice on managing the condition can be gained from members at forums like tinnitustalk. I am therefore surprised when reading and answering some of the posts here, at the amount of people that don’t use sound enrichment at night and they have intrusive tinnitus.

      It is well known that the brain and auditory system never switches off, providing of course one hasn’t met their demise. Doctors often encourage those, close to a comatose patient to talk to them, as the sense of hearing is still active. If the brain hears silence when we are in deep sleep, it has the ability to increase it’s own background activity. In doing so it will also open up its auditory receptors or gateways and increase the tinnitus, thus making it louder and more intrusive during our waking hours. Tinnitus is generated in the part of the brain called the limbic system, which controls our emotions. The onset of tinnitus often brings with it fear and emotional instability, because that part of the brain focuses on the tinnitus and never wants to let it go.

      A sound machine placed by the bedside and set to play throughout the night until morning, is an ideal way of supplying the brain with sound enrichment. The brain’s auditory gateways will now tend to close, and over time the tinnitus is pushed further into the background making its perception less noticeable during waking hours. If a person has hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) it will also be addressed, as sound enrichment will help to desensitise the auditory system.

      It is not uncommon for someone with hearing impairment to experience tinnitus. Once someone is fitted with a hearing aid/s the tinnitus will usually fade into the background and become less noticeable. This is because the brain no longer has to work so hard by turning up its internal gain (volume) to compensate for the frequencies in the outside world it cannot hear. Wearable white noise generators used as part of TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) work in a similar way. Supplying the brain and auditory system with sound enrichment. Over time the tinnitus is pushed further into the background making it less noticeable. If hyperacuis is present the wngs will treat it.

      Many conditions can cause tinnitus but exposure to loud noise/sounds is the most common. Anyone with noise-induced tinnitus it’s advisable to use a sound machine that plays nature sounds by the bedside at night. Although some people use music it is not the best source, as it draws the brain’s attention. Low-level non-intrusive sounds have been known to work the best.

      For those whose tinnitus wasn’t caused by exposure to loud noise, I still think it’s a good idea to use a sound machine at night, in preference to sleeping in a quiet room. SM can also be attached to a pillow speaker for privacy providing a 3.5 mini out-put socket is fitted. Oasis sound machines are one of the best and most of their models are fitted with 3.5 socket. Anyone interested their website can be found on Google.

      Michael
       
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    2. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      Michael,

      What is your opinion on wearing earplugs. When and where? What about daily sound exposure and it's positive or negative effects?
       
    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Hi Blujay. Earplugs are a good thing when used correctly, in noisy evironments. They shouldn't be used to surpress normal everyday sounds. Anyone with tinnitus needs to be more careful of exposure to loud noise. It's a matter of just being sensible. If sound levels start to become uncomfortable then move further away from it.
      Michael
       
    4. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      What do you consider noisy? Do you wear earplugs in cars, for example?
       
    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      No blue, I have never worn earplugs in a car. Noisy enviroments are: Bars or pubs where music might be played loud. Concerts, football games. The earplugs that I'd recommend wearing are noise reducing earplugs at these events. They don't totally block-out sound, they reduce it. If you are sensitive to sound then that isn't normal and you could have hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) in that case it would be best to be seen by an ENT Dr to be examined.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    6. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      Michael,

      I've seen a couple of approaches to tinnitus that seem yet unstudied by science, and I'm wondering if you'd care to comment.

      I know of people who intended to "heal" their noise-induced tinnitus. On instinct, they wore earplugs for a year or more in "normal" surroundings, in order not to irritate their hearing (just as common sense would tell one to do with any other injured body part). When they finally removed the plugs for good, their T was almost non-existent. (Apparently, not everyone gets hyperacusis from wearing ear plugs.)

      At the other end of the spectrum, I know of people with tinnitus who exposed themselves "very gradually" to louder and louder sounds over a period of years. The intent was not to mask, but to turn down the volume of the brain. One person, by the end of that time, had his white noise machine turned all the way up at night. These people gradually got their central auditory gain turned down to such a great degree that they could no longer hear their tinnitus, even when in silence. This was not habituation; the tinnitus (along with other exterior sounds) kept reducing in volume until the tinnitus was simply no longer audible. They were willing to hear the entire world a little more quietly in exchange for not hearing the tinnitus. As they maintained normal lives, out in normal sounds, the effect was permanent, and they no longer needed night-time masking at all. (One person did turn on the white noise a couple of nights a week, to make sure the brain maintained its volume setting.)

      And then I know of one person who combined both the above methods: first healing the tinnitus with ear plugs, and then later driving down the gain with sound.

      These people had the patience of saints, but it worked for them.

      Comments?
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Bluejay,
      Tinnitus is very complex. It comes in many forms and intensities and no two people experience it the same. A particular treatment might work for one person and do absolutely nothing for another.
      Using sound enrichment is a tried and tested treatment that has helped many people, but as I said everyone is different so it probably won't work for everyone.

      I once had very severe hypercusis and it was cured in two years using white noise generators as part of TRT. I was under the care of hospital and had regular counselling appointments with a Hearing Therapist who also had tinnitus - back then my tinnitus reduced to such a level I hardly heard it. Unfortunately, in 2008 my tinnitus increased due to noise exposure. I started TRT for the second time and wore white noise generators and had counselling with my Hearing Therapist; the treatment lasted two years. However, TRT the second time around wasn't as successful. It helped but my tinnitus never returned to what it was like before, although thankfully my hyperacusis didn't return. There is no certainty in how tinnitus will react to treatment because we are all different, we just have to hope for the best.
      Michael
       
    8. Bart
      Balanced

      Bart Member

      Location:
      Antwerp
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/06/2014
      @Michael Leigh

      Do you still use sound enrichment at night now that you are fully habituated ?
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Hello Bart,
      I have had tinnitus for twenty years and habituated to tinnitus twice. My t got worse in 2008. Had TRT for two years but it didn't return to what it was like before. It can be: Silent, mild, moderate, and very severe. When it's very severe and this last for 2 to 3 days I have to take clonazapam 2x0.5 tablets. Believe me the noise is that intense it's imposible to habituate to that. My consultant told me I'm the second worsed tinnitus patient she's ever treated- I did ask her to be candid about my condition.

      However, she said: "I'll never give up on treating you". That's when she prescribed me the clonazapam. It's sometimes given to people with severe tinnitus. I know of it's addictive nature and don't take it often. My Dr and hearing therapist have said, they don't normally see patients with my type of tinnitus. Such large fluctuations in intensity. When my T is silent, mild or moderate I can carry on just fine. When it's severely intrusive that's another matter, I cope though. I have habituated and as I type my sound machine is playing in the background. I always use my sound machine at night even when my tinnitus is completely silent. I wear my white noise generators whenever I feel like it, sometimes when my tinnitus is silent.
      Michael
       
      • Like Like x 2
    10. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      Michael wrote:

      "I once had very severe hypercusis and it was cured in two years using white noise generators as part of TRT. I was under the care of hospital and had regular counselling appointments with a Hearing Therapist who also had tinnitus - back then my tinnitus reduced to such a level I hardly heard it."

      Michael,
      It sounds as though possibly you were hearing the tinnitus because your central gain was cranked up so high by the hyperacusis. And when that central hyperacusis volume was reduced by your sound therapy, the previously amplified tinnitus went down with it.

      This causes me to think that sound therapy based on reducing central gain could be beneficial--even for those who do not have hyperacusis. If it can be done without worsening the tinnitus...

      It also sounds as though your second bout is a new breed; you're now hearing tinnitus because of specific damage, and not because your central gain is cranked up by hyperacusis. And that's why the second therapy was less successful.

      However, I can still see hope there... Possibly the volume is cranked up only in the range of your tinnitus, but somehow driving down the central gain might still affect it positively. Or there may be some way to drive down the volume gain of the specific frequencies of the tinnitus?
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Bluejay,
      Thanks for your advice and you could well be right. I have improved sine 2008 and my T is now managable. I don't want to tempt fate and try anything. I know what my tinnitus can be like when it's very, very severe and I don't ever want to visit that place again.
      All the best
      Michael
       
    12. glynis-harbron
      Feminine

      glynis-harbron Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      England, Stoke-on-Trent
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meniere's Disease
      I wish mine would settle down a bit but it never does.
      Thank god for the NHS and my digital hearing aids.....lots of love glynis
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    13. Blujay

      Blujay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1900
      I certainly understand that.

      I'm bringing it up because it's so often repeated that "tinnitus happens when the brain turns up the gain on damaged hair cells." Yet there's little talk on possibly turning down that gain. I think some sufferers have stumbled onto their own method and gotten lucky.

      But the story about your tinnitus reducing along with your hyperacusis is significant, I believe. I have heard this before. And since many people with ordinary tinnitus report being sound-sensitive in the range of their tinnitus, could it be that they are actually experiencing a form of range-specific hyperacusis? And if so, could it be specifically treated as such?

      You mention that your T has improved since 2008. Can you attribute this to anything specific?

      Thanks.
       
    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Blujay,I have continued using my white noise gerators since 2010 when trt ended. I can't put the improvements down to anything specific except keeping a positive outlook on life even in the down times. When my T was at it's worse I was unable to read a book for two years. It was a hard long road to get back to where I am and I'm statisfied with that. I'm thankful to my: GP, ENT consultant and hearing therapist for never giving up on me. Michael
       
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