Mastering My Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Kaelon, Jun 2, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      This is a Success Story about how habituation, physical therapy, mental discipline, and finally, lifestyle changes have made Tinnitus a non-factor in my life.

      Over 19 months ago, my life was forever changed when I awoke one morning and, slowly, throughout the course of the day the familiar high-pitched pulse of Tinnitus bilaterally plagued my hearing. I've written extensively, both on this forum and across the Internet, about my experience and challenges. I've even created a Tinnitus page on my personal website. To say that Tinnitus started out defining my life would be an understatement, as I know it started defining the lives of all those afflicted with this terrible and sad condition.

      Today, over 19 months later, I have mastered my Tinnitus.

      I am not cured - not by a long-shot. But I am, by and large, completely ignorant of Tinnitus' impact on my life, except when I focus on it. I've been able to resume all of the activities, passions, and interests of my life before I had Tinnitus, but with one major difference. My mastery of Tinnitus has gifted me with incredible mental focus that I didn't have before. If you have read any of my posts on Tinnitus Talk, you will know that especially during the first six months, I was ravenous in my appetite to find a cure. Like many of you, I couldn't believe that something so life changing and so ear-piercing was incurable, and worse, permanent. I also had many false starts and approaches to 'gaming' my Tinnitus because, again like many of you, my tinnitus is reactive.

      Here's what happened:
      1. My Tinnitus, when it started, was piercingly loud - a ~7 out of 10, at best, and sometimes higher. I could hear it over music, over the television, even in the shower. I also had full-blown hyperacusis for the first couple of months, where every day sounds (heartbreakingly, my then 2-year-old son's sweet and loving voice) produced piercing pain and excruciating headaches. I remember that I was not able to enjoy my time at a very loud convention, and missed out on most of the panels, because my Tinnitus made it impossible to concentrate on what was being said.

      2. My Tinnitus is also somatosensory, meaning that I could amplify or silence it by moving my lower jaw. This was a clue as to the underlying etiological mechanism of my Tinnitus, but like most Tinnitus, even a clear behavioral interchange does not describe the symptomatic pathology of the neurological disorder. However, because my jaw was a factor, after ruling out many other things that would be much scarier - like brain tumors, cancers, etc. - doctors began to focus on my jaw, clenching teeth, and how this created the muscular conditions for my Tinnitus to emerge. Prednisone completely silences my tinnitus for upwards to a couple of days when taken in at least a 50 mg increments. This proves that my tinnitus is at least inflammatory in origin, and aligns with the somatosensory behavioral mechanism.

      3. I began wearing a nightguard about 3 months into my Tinnitus, just as my hyperacusis began to fade (and my Tinnitus became more regular and less erratic - a typical "centralizing" effect that you often read about when Tinnitus goes from being acute to chronic). Ultimately, I noticed minor improvements in the loudness of the Tinnitus, but it was still very clearly there. Cervical MRIs never showed anything particularly compelling, but my chiropractor began to perform significant adjustments to my neck, back, and spine that all seemed to help. My Tinnitus went from a 7 out of 10 down to a 2 or 3 out of 10, and I could begin to easily mask it. However, it was still always there.

      4. Physical Therapy to address the tension of my jaw also helped make Tinnitus appear much less noticeable. I also noticed that getting a good night's sleep, taking hot showers before bed, and hot showers in the morning also helped relax the muscles and likely contributed to a gradual improving over time.

      5. By the 6 month mark, I started to experience the early signs of habituation. I would go for a few hours without actually noticing my Tinnitus, even though it was still there, and could focus and concentrate on other things. I began to be very cognizant of this ability and then began to hone my mine to focus on the silence. (Another poster here has described a success story involving meditation that "focuses" on the silence, as a way to build neuralplasticity -- I am convinced this is ultimately what I was doing through these exercises.)
      I attended the same annual conference that I do each year this past November and noticed for the first time that I was completely oblivious of my Tinnitus. Yes, if I tuned into it, I could hear it. Yes, at times, it was excruciatingly loud. And yes, it quite regularly could be predictably triggered by movements of my jaw, a bad night's sleep, or even exercise. But by and large, I couldn't care less about it. Habituation, as an irresistible path, happens to pretty much everyone over a 12-18 month period -- but for some people, it can be much quicker or much longer, depending upon certain psychological and neurological factors. I believe that my exercises, however, were a factor in driving the core tinnitus volume down and making habituation easier. They were:
      • A Chiropractic adjustments (months 2-6)
      • Nightguard Use (months 2-5)
      • Physical Therapy (months 4-9)
      • Low Calorie Diet and Cardio Exercise (months 15-18)
      Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, Tinnitus may ultimately have been one of the best things that ever happened to me - as cruel and awful as that may sound. Teaching my mind to focus on the silence, and to drown out Tinnitus has enabled me to selectively hear. I can completely tune people out, or focus on a single sound to the exclusion of everything else. This mental agility is, according to my neurologist, a carefully honed by-product of neural plasticity. It has made me a superior professional at work and has helped drive remarkable results for my career, as well as enabled me to jump-start numerous initiatives in my life that had been long-stalled, long before I ever had my Tinnitus.

      I would be happy to answer any questions about my experience and journey so far. Tinnitus, at least for me, appears to be a permanent fixture in my life, but it is largely irrelevant on its impact in my day-to-day.
       
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    2. undecided
      Fine

      undecided Member

      Location:
      Greece
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown.
      Happy for you mate.
      I guess if one's t is somatosensory to some degree, investing time in exercise and some physical therapy can work wonders.
       
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    3. Mario martz
      Creative

      Mario martz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Good to hear your sucess story kaelon!
      trying to take all of your advices :)
       
    4. juigmo
      Wishful

      juigmo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown but I think TMJ
      Very happy about your story Kaleon. I think I have same symptomps as you.
      How is your H now? Beside diet and exercise, are you taking any medication?
       
    5. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      My Hyperacusis lasted only about 8-10 weeks at the very start of my Tinnitus, and it was pretty terrible. But then it gradually faded away. I don't get H anymore, and haven't since the very start. I've read that this is very typical.

      Aside from diet and exercise, I take a multivitamin and separate magnesium supplements daily. That's basically it. Since dieting and exercising, I've been taken off of my blood pressure meds, my cholesterol is now totally normal, and I feel great!
       
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    6. just1morething
      Benevolent

      just1morething Member Benefactor

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2008
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      barotrauma from airplane descent, noise exposure? ETD? TMJD?
      @Kaelon, Glad you're doing well! Do you have awakening tinnitus? I'm headed towards neck surgery like Carl Horton did, but not sure if it will make my noise go away if it's more in my brain or possibly muscular caused. Could be indirectly caused by my neck issues creating muscle spasms someone told me.
       
    7. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      There are physical exercises that I had done during physical therapy to address jaw and neck issues that helped tremendously. I should really start and do these again because they definitely had an immediate effect.

      When you say "awakening tinnitus," do you mean does my Tinnitus start out low through the day and then grow louder as the day goes on? If so, the answer is yes. When I wake up, and especially after my morning shower (which is always hot), my Tinnitus is very low - usually a 1 out of 10. As I sit in front of a computer, however, and my neck stiffens, the Tinnitus increases. So I know that my somatosensory complication at the very least intensifies the Tinnitus.
       
    8. just1morething
      Benevolent

      just1morething Member Benefactor

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2008
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      barotrauma from airplane descent, noise exposure? ETD? TMJD?
      Thanks. I forgot to say awakening loud tinnitus. Mine seems to start out loud upon awakening from overnight sleep or a nap. Some people like you have low tinnitus upon awakening, which I would prefer. I hate starting out the day loud.
       
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    9. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Any tinnitus that deviates in volume based upon sleep is usually attributed to an underlying physiological aggravating cause. I have found that a chiropractor really helped with my sleep posture and positioning here. Have you had cervical adjustments with a chiropractor?
       
    10. juigmo
      Wishful

      juigmo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown but I think TMJ
      In my case I have T and H for 2 years. I believe the main cause is TMJ and very bad posture for many years and the root cause is bruxism during sleep (I guess I clench my teeth). Even thougt I'm habituated to T (I feel it in both ears and into my head), H is killing me. The ear pain is located in my right ear, where the TMJD is located. The TMJ specalist never told me to use a splint but instead of that, she recommended to visit a massage therapist. I did 30 sessions and she worked in the masseter and neck muscles of my right ear. I made some progress but the ear sensibility came back after a few days. I think there is a relationship between face muscles and neck and back muscles.
      I'm also doing TRT, just because the only ENT who cared about my problem (I visited many) told me that it is the only real treatment available and I have to be patient to see some result for my H.....

      Anyway, I'm thinking to visit an Osteopath, someone told me that they have a different approach to treat this condition.
       
    11. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Yes, you rightly observe that for those of us who have suspected TMJ complications, the face, neck, and upper back muscles are all interconnected. It does take a lifetime of bad habits to eventually shift the muscles into these states of spasm. Habituation is ultimately what did it for me, but these exercises certainly helped. I should, ostensibly, be wearing my splint every night, but I stopped to get benefits from it towards the end of several months in. Might be worth giving it a shot again -- dentists generally say that it can take upwards to a year to see significant benefits.
       
    12. Ears Hurt

      Ears Hurt Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Whiplash or Buzzer (abuse from ex)
      @Kaelon What are the exercises you do for tmj? Can you describe?

      @juigmo What does an Osteopath do?
       
    13. Anna051

      Anna051 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @Kaelon How did you teach your mind to listen for silence and drown out tinnitus?
       
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    14. just1morething
      Benevolent

      just1morething Member Benefactor

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      2008
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      barotrauma from airplane descent, noise exposure? ETD? TMJD?
      Yes, but not recently. I will see a chiropractor at Mayo on Wednesday. I will review my recent MRI with him regarding possible surgery to the C5-C7 levels in the near future. Not sure if adjustments are wise if you have some bad discs and cord compression.
       
    15. juigmo
      Wishful

      juigmo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown but I think TMJ
      @Ears Hurt Osteopaths and Chiropractors works in similar things but they have some differences:

      http://nicholascoysh-osteopath.co.uk/differences-between-osteopathy-and-chiropractic/

      I have done many scans of my back and neck and the doctors didn't find nothing bad (from the bones point of view), but when I told them that my main problem is the back and neck pain "MUSCLES", they say is due to stress or bad posture. They gave me some pills to relax my muscles and told me to practice Yoga or Tai Chi and learn to live with it.

      On the other hand, osteopaths try to find the "root cause" of the problem and see your body as a "whole".
      They try to find if your problems are emotional (stress, anxiety, depression) and also if there is something not align in your body (bones, muscles, organs, etc).
      I don't think they would cure my tinnitus, but I will be very grateful if they give me some relief of my back and neck pain without using medications.

      Who knows...
       
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    16. Joao Rio
      Amazed

      Joao Rio Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Porto
      Tinnitus Since:
      May, 25th 2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      TMJ Inflamation??
      Kaelon, thank you very much for your post. It is great to have this information laid out in such an organized manner. We must have entered the forum at about the same time and I have been following your posts from the beginning and can say I am very happy for your successes.

      All the best
       
    17. Worker

      Worker Member

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      lots going on at the time
      I have been following your posts from the beginning.
      Pleased you are in a better place.
      i am interested in the fact that a steroid made your tinnitus go away for 2 days. Indicating inflamation.
      is your somatosensory tinnitus pulsatile in nature?
      lots of advice here for everyone.
      would you please mind sharing your exercises please?
      what did your chiropractor do at your sessions please?

      I would also like to ask whether your ent at the hospital suggested the chiro, physical therapy and splint? Or was it your research which promped you?
      Did the ent at hospital inform you that it was inflamation was the cause? I am interested because you were seen at the hospital where the only research took place on this syndrome.
      What do you think caused your somatosensory tinnitus syndrome? It came on sudden.
       
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    18. ryand
      Artistic

      ryand Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe Audio, Stress, Cervical, TMJ, Jaw, Sleeping on Stomach
      thnx Kaelon. Congrats on where you're at. Your situation really mirrors mine. I've had it for 7 months now and really only flares up when I sleep poorly or in a poor head position. I'm currently getting chiro corrective care for a jacked up neck. (right shifted c2 dens-odontoid process) How did they help you with sleep posture? How can you control that while your sleeping? Congrats again and thank you for your organized doc.
       
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    19. barbb

      barbb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @ryand my chiropractor told me to buy a med firm pillow......
       
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    20. whale
      No Mood

      whale Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/25/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Myofascial crap Bruxism, a jackhammer, stress who knows
      How are you doing. I'm just starting TMJ treatment and getting my guard in a week.
       
    21. John G

      John G Member

      @ryand may I ask how things are going with that shifted c2 dens-odontoid process?
       

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