My Current Progression — Got Tinnitus in ~100 dB Manufacturing Environment While Wearing Earplugs

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Arch, Jul 20, 2022.

    1. Arch

      Arch Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Hi, I'll be logging my tinnitus progression through this website so I can look back on it. Otherwise, it would be a pain to remember the gradual progression. When I read this forum, I rarely see people who get tinnitus WHILE wearing earplugs. I wore earplugs 24/7 at work specifically to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus, so it's pretty devastating to me that I have tinnitus 24/7 right now...


      I got tinnitus through noise exposure in a 100-110 dB manufacturing environment. I was working in this environment from July 2021 to May 2022. I wore earplugs every day, specifically Howard Leight Max-1 earplugs from July to Octoberish, but then I bought a new box and their new version hurt my ears so much (they greatly reduced the softness). So I swapped to a different one for a month (EARsoft FX earplugs), and well, those hurt like hell too, so I finally swapped to Radians Prohibitor around December 2021. These worked well, but occasionally they hurt a lot. It's possible that the noise exposure might have been causing my ear canal to contract or something, because the Prohibitor earplugs never hurt when it's quiet, only when I was in that loud environment. Anyway, I felt it was unsustainable to have my ears hurting while working, so I looked into buying silicone custom earplugs from Westone. This would probably prove to be a mistake: I started wearing them in April and I gradually started getting tinnitus in my right ear until I couldn't sleep. Before April, my tinnitus was probably 0.5/10 or less, in other words I basically didn't have it. I suspect the silicone earplug for my right ear didn't have a good enough seal on my ear. Yes, I always made sure foam earplugs were fully inserted into my ear, so there was no problem for the prior three foam earplug brands. Since I used earplugs so much, my tinnitus is naturally not moderate or severe. It's definitely mild.

      Here are my goals for tinnitus recovery:

      Stage 1: I can work/study without masking

      Stage 2: I can sleep 8 hours without medication

      Stage 3: I can sleep with earplugs again

      Reaching stage 2 is critical to me. Stage 3 would be helpful but not necessary, however it would screw me over if I needed to sleep in a loud environment. I would say I'm at stage 1 without earplugs. I think it's still really distracting while wearing earplugs though, obviously since it's so much louder.


      Month 1:

      One main noise, ringing like the sound of a machine whirring on and off. No white noise, just periodic whistling like a machine. I thought I would recover within two weeks to be honest. I stopped going into the loud noise environment and just waited, but in the first month my tinnitus didn't change much. Since my tinnitus was constantly fluctuating in volume, this was really annoying but since it's mild I probably slept 6 hours on average this month. I started using a fan as white noise so I could fall asleep to begin with. This month, my tinnitus was a 3/10. But that's subjective, I'll put something more helpful. I could partially mask it in a 20-30 dB environment (with just a desktop computer on). I was pretty traumatized this month even though it was mild.

      Month 2:

      Transition from the previous main noise to main noise + white noise (got white noise tinnitus from sleeping with fan). My tinnitus started spiking because I used a fan to sleep. It would spike and I would wake up in the middle of the night, averaging 4 hours of sleep. I also used headphones for 3 hours of job interviews. Big ears hurt all day and my tinnitus spiked to 4/10 for weeks. My desktop computer stopped masking it at its peak. With these two events, my tinnitus became very reactive. Anything above 50-60 dB spikes it right now. I currently wear an earplug in my right ear all the time during the day, as long as I don't need to focus. I see some people on this forum disagreeing with this approach to tinnitus for some reason, but whatever. I would say I've recovered from the prior spikes already now that it's the end of the month. My tinnitus is a 2.5/10, but it can spike to 4/10 temporarily if I'm exposed to 50+ dB for many hours. At the end of the 2nd month, the main machine noise is starting to become a bit quieter (maybe... 40% quieter?), and I'm mainly hearing white noise/static. This is huge to me, I'm starting to sleep 6-8 hours again and I have Melatonin ready if I need it. But it can spike back to original levels, so I'm trying to stay vigilant. I watch YouTube videos in silence, never play music, minimize socializing for now... it's pretty depressing avoiding noise as much as possible but I want to maximize recovery odds.

      That's all for now!
    2. Matchbox

      Matchbox Member

      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      I guess now you know.

      All that earplug use also sensitizes your ears but it's still the right call and you'll likely have fading.

      Double up next time. 110 dB cuts right through earplugs. There'd be limits even with double protection.
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