My Positive Progress Over 10 Months: Tinnitus from Prolonged Noise Exposure

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by DesFox, Sep 16, 2020.

    1. DesFox

      DesFox Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Dec 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Excessive noise exposure
      I have been following this forum since my tinnitus started 10 months ago, but was reluctant to write not to jinx the progress that I think I have made. I recently started thinking I owe this forum and fellow sufferers an update on my story and also hear your feedback/experiences.

      My tinnitus started on 1 December 2019. I think it was due to prolonged noise exposure. I have been listening to loud music all my life and I believe it finally caught up with me. My ears never got any rest. A few weeks prior to the onset of tinnitus I started getting spikes, but the traditional ones (the ones that last 10-15 seconds and pass), never had those before. In the beginning I attributed this to me getting out of shape, high blood pleasure, etc. and decided to go more often to the gym and obviously listening even more to loud music while working out. Only after permanent onset did I realize it were the first signs of tinnitus. So, the body sends you warnings, listen to them! In addition, during this period I was having some stress at work, plus sleeping really badly. I guess that didn't help either. So to sum up, I think I am a typical example of long-term excessive noise exposure.

      Anyways, I woke up on 1 December in the middle of the night hearing a roaring sound in my head. There was a wind blowing all the time. I cant tell you how loud it was, but I could hear it all the time. I went to an ENT doctor immediately. I actually went to 3 and I had 2 hearing tests done. My hearing was typical for my age, i.e. no hearing loss. All the doctors attributed my tinnitus to noise exposure and stress. I got some prescription medicine, first to improve my balance (I don't know why, cause I never experienced any vertigo). But that just made me feel dizzy, so I stopped taking that. The 3rd ENT doctor prescribed me Piracetam (I live in Europe) for a month and supplements, the ones that contribute to better sleep, concentration and improve your hearing. I have been taking these supplements regularly since December. Whether the improvements I have noticed over time, as I will describe below, are due to these medicines/ supplements… I don't know. I guess they didn't hurt. Oh, the last ENT doctor said my tinnitus will probably pass, but when I asked when… she replied I don't know.

      That's how my story started. It's difficult to write a continuous story about tinnitus because changes are slow and non-linear. I will write a catalogue of experiences rather than a consistent timeline. As someone on this forum said, tinnitus is 3 steps forwards 2 steps back. You will notice changes over months, not days or weeks. Your tinnitus will fluctuate, but over time you should notice a downward trend. I started noticing change around February, March 2020. The noise was still a wind blowing, but it was definitely quieter than before.

      As regards sleep, my sleeping problems ended rapidly after onset. I started playing audiobooks very low on a wireless speaker, not really to listen to it, but to have background noise when falling asleep. Maybe the supplements also helped? I continue to occasionally get a bad night, when I can't fall asleep till 4-5 in the morning, but these are luckily rare. I stopped taking naps however as especially in the beginning this caused my tinnitus to spike. I also stopped “jumping out of bed” when getting up. I noticed this caused my tinnitus to spike after jumping up at 3am for a quick toilet visit. Couldn't fall asleep till morning as the wind in my head turned into overdrive! :) In general, when I wake up I tend to lie in bed calmly for a few minutes. I read somewhere on this Forum that spikes after waking up are typical. If we wake up suddenly all our sensors immediately set to maximum. Hence, we pick up our tinnitus more acutely as well. I think there is some truth to this.

      Going back to my story. As I said before in February/ March I started thinking to myself that I think it is getting better. I could sit in the office and work normally again. I found slow jazz really good for concentration, it also seemed to drown out the wind really well (I never listened to jazz before). In April/May I noticed that the noise changed from roaring to a static. Initially I was scared of this, cause some forum posts claimed that a change from static to a hiss is a sign of improvement? I had the opposite experience, so I was getting worse? But the static sound was lower, still annoying obviously, but lower than the wind blowing in your head. So I took this as a further sign of improvement.

      Around May I stopped getting spikes (except for recently, which I will explain further below), the short 10 second ones. Up until that point I had these spikes on top of my normal tinnitus. Of course, I had good and bad days, but I wouldn't call bad days as spikes. I just woke up and it was either quieter or louder, usually this level stayed with me all day. My experience of the short spikes is that they are a sign of improvement. Usually when these short spikes became more frequent things improved, i.e. my baseline got lower. Also sometimes I noticed that bad days are getting worse and worse, that was actually a sign of improvement. Cause after 3-4 of consecutive bad days I settled at a lower baseline. It is like our ears make one last desperate effort to stay at the higher level, but our brain says, enough… let's try a lower tone, shall we. ;-)

      Around May-June I also noticed that I was becoming marginally less and less aware of my tinnitus, I started having short moments for the first time when I listened for it, but could not hear it. I started having longer periods when it wasn't there cause I was able to concentrate fully on something else and block out the sound. Of course, it always came back, but still this was huge relief at that time. In August during the holidays I had for the first time extended periods of time (days) with no tinnitus or when I noticed it quickly disappeared. This lasted for 3 weeks, until the day we were supposed to drive home. We had to drive across Europe to get home, so I was understandably a bit stressed about the long road ahead. I woke after sleeping badly with a louder noise than I have heard for a while. It was lower compared to December, but still loud enough for me to feel concerned about it. However it continued to subside over 2 days (when we got safely home) and then things started being quiet again. For days no tinnitus, or very short and then gone. This period again lasted around 3 weeks. Which brings me to a few days ago when I woke up in the middle of the night with loud tinnitus again. I woke up with some indigestion (I almost never have those problems) only 50 minutes after falling asleep, so I really didn't sleep. I had a power nap and as we know after naps we have spikes.

      This tinnitus was of the sort I have not heard in ages. Obviously it freaked me out… I didn't know what caused it. I have been careful with my ears and now such a set-back! Luckily it started subsiding within 2 hours, by the end of the day it was very quiet again. The next day I was back to very low or non-existent tinnitus. Still, it really bothers me what it was. I did not expect such a major setback. I started analysing what could have caused this, it could not have been noise! However, the last couple of days prior to this latest spike I was playing constantly a lot of video games (with low sound, no headphones), going to bed late, sleeping irregular hours, watching movies before falling asleep. It was not real stress, but my brain never had the time to really disconnect. So perhaps the constant bombardment of my brain with sensory impulses, plus the sudden waking up caused my sudden spike?

      I started thinking that my battle with tinnitus is nearing a close, either it will disappear completely or settle at such a low baseline that I will stop noticing it. The latest spike however gave me renewed humility, tinnitus is a weird beast and you cannot ever underestimate it. Still I wonder how you would interpret my latest experience? I believe that besides the typical precautions we tinnitus suffers take, i.e. avoiding noise, is only half of the solution. We must also let our brains relax, if they fire on all cylinders all the time, are always in overdrive the tinnitus will also be put into overdrive. I think that was at least a contributing factor to my 2 recent experiences with spikes.

      Anyways, I am now almost 10 months in. I am scared to write this (again, not to jinx it), but I think/ know my tinnitus is much more quiet, almost gone some days. It is not habituation, it has actually gotten lower. When I was going on my bike in April/May I could still hear it with the wind in my ears, when I bike now I cannot hear it. Could I be healing? I have been taking good care of my ears, haven't listened to earphones since December. I turned down the music and noise at home. In some ways I think my hearing improved, I listen to TV/ music at much lower volumes now without any problems. I also notice many more sounds now, sounds I would ignore before and ask myself, is this tinnitus or is it coming from outside my head? I try to avoid noisy situations, lock-down definitely helped as we are going out less than before. If I go out now I always carry earplugs with me. Which brings me to another reflection, as I have been so cautious with my ears I perceive every noise louder than before. I don't think its hyperacusis, I don't feel actual pain in my ears with loud sounds, I just get this warning light in my brain, look out, loud noise. I had a Skype call at work recently, was sitting in my office, door closed, good acoustics. I have a loud voice, so I suddenly started thinking am I talking to loud???

      I realize I won't be able to avoid all noise, cant be done. I didn't freak out about all the loud noises you hear during the day, these sounds should not harm you. Its prolonged exposure that is dangerous, not a 2 second car horn you pass on the street. Actually, one day I was biking close to the airport and by coincidence a plane was landing above my head. I freaked out but this didn't cause any spikes (at least immediately afterwards). I took the plane a few times (before COVID-19 shut it all down), with earplugs, didn't notice any negative effects. I drove all day on a highway, with earplugs, constant engine and wind noise. Managed that fine as well. But now perhaps I am becoming paranoid about noise levels? I don't know… What is a tolerable level of noise to a recovering tinnitus patient?

      However, try to get out of the house as much as you can. Don't lock yourself up and wait for this to pass. I noticed that if I went out on my bike, got some oxygen into my brain my tinnitus usually improved the next day. In general exercise helps, if not with tinnitus itself but it is easier to deal with the symptoms when you feel better about yourself. It also helps the brain calm down, our brains are also critical to how we perceive the sound.

      Oh, and don't waste days excessively researching tinnitus on the internet. Besides making your it louder by default you will come across horror stories of people who can barely live with this thing or who are consistently getting worse. As much as I am sorry for them, their experiences don't have to be the same for you. You know nothing about their medical history or lifestyle so you cannot transfer their condition to you. Every now and then read the success stories on this forum, cause this gives you hope. But also be careful, when you read a story “Tinnitus passed after 4 moths”. What will you think when you realize you are in month 7,8 or 10? Every case is different, with the right precautions you should notice some healing but on an individual timeline. About timeline for recovery. Don't stress about the clock, some people say 3 months than its permanent, others 6-9, others 9-12 moths. I read stories of people improving after 16 months. Who should you trust? Monitor your progress. If you are continuously improving, even at a slow pace in month 9, this cant be a bad sign? There is no reason this trend will not continue… At least that is what I kept telling myself as deadlines kept passing by.

      In closing to this rambling post I can only say, don't give up. Think about months of living with this, rather than weeks. If it doesn't disappear (mine still hasn't after all, it rears its ugly head on occasions), it should settle down at a much more tolerable level for most. Give it time. Still it will be annoying as hell many days, cause even if it gets quieter in Month 6 and you would kill for this level in Month 1, the fact is it is still there… Other days you will freak out that the louder noise you hear means it is getting worse. Honestly, you will not know. But if you continue to get over spikes, your baseline settles at lower volumes, what prevents it from continuing to do so? I kept telling myself that, it wasn't always easy, but you just got to roll with it sometimes… Good luck!
       
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    2. Naren

      Naren Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1 week
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you. Congratulations for great progress. I have read your success story multiple times. Everytime I read, I find some similarity with your situation and that clarified some of my doubts. I was wondering why it slowed down little bit and then bothers me for 3 to 4 days with no reason to spike. I have completed 2 months with this Tinnitus. It is really not an easy thing to understand behavior of this Tinnitus.. I see little improvement from the time it started. I got some hope after reading your success story. Thank you once again..
       
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    3. Doug Robison

      Doug Robison Member

      Location:
      Saint Petersburg, Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly noise induced
      Great OP, thank you for this. I am new to the whole T experience, now approaching one month since sudden onset. I too did not have any recent exposure to loud noise, and I first noticed it while mountain biking on a quiet country road when I heard "crickets and cicadas" that weren't really there. Since then I have noticed a weird occasional feeling of "fullness" in my ears, and that everything just seems louder than before. Not really H, and there is no pain or fear, but it just feels like the gain of auditory system has been cranked up a few clicks. All of this has freaked me out, so I ended up here. I am seeing an ENT tomorrow to rule out anything organic, but I don't expect to get much help with the tinnitus thing, which has settled into a continuous hiss, and sometimes crickets, mostly in my left ear. Not a terrible sound, but anxiety producing because I can't turn it off. In my case, I think the onset was due to cumulative noise exposure (I am 65) as well as stress (COVID, the election, pending retirement, other recent health issues, etc.).

      I am a professional scientist so tend to be hyper-analytical about everything, including my own medical issues. After reading everything I can about T and H, and hundreds of posts on this forum, it seems the T is usually associated with some sort of an assault to, and lesion in the auditory system (acute loud noise, cumulative loud noise, infection, ototoxic drug exposure, etc.). Anxiety and and stress clearly seem to exacerbate it, but probably don't cause it outright. Improvement seems to be slow, on the order of months or even years - and is a combination of both the lessening of the actual tinnitus signals being sent to your brain (some healing of the damage), as well as your brain learning to tune it out (habituation, neural plasticity). Since I have acquired my T, it has made me very anxious and I am working hard on that with lots of exercise and a short dose of Xanax, both of which really help. And I am emboldened by stories like yours that document slow but steady progress towards improvement, if not complete recovery.
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      DesFox

      DesFox Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Dec 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Excessive noise exposure
      Thanks for your message. Your summary of the findings reflects well my experience. I have noticed continuous, but steady improvements. Never linear however, so you must accept that bad days will come, but they will most likely pass. Stress does seem to negatively affect my tinnitus as well, so keep biking and being active. I also took up biking regularly following onset and actually feel a correlation between being outdoors and the next day being a good day. Recovery should come to you as well. I think the most important thing is to reject the timelines people give on these fora. We all recover individually and you just need to be patient. Keep busy. I actually noticed my tinnitus much less during the holidays, when I was out most of the day. Now, being back in the (home)office it is easier to notice the sound. It is lower than a month or 2 ago, but more frequently present because I spend more time in a quiet setting now. And one last thing, I also noticed over time that I am more sensitive to noise. I wouldn't call it hyperacusis, I don't recognize the symptoms people mention. Its just that I have been used to lower sounds (with the lock-down being in a quiet place was easy) and I think I pick everything that is louder. Anyways, be patient, keep being active and I believe you will also start noticing positive changes.
       
    5. SeanD5054

      SeanD5054 Member

      Location:
      Chicago
      Tinnitus Since:
      Sept 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma/shock? possible TMJ issues?
      Hello all,

      I am new to this as well had my child scream in my ear back in late August and my onset of tinnitus came in early September. I am trying to stay positive through all this as well.

      I am glad people on Tinnitus Talk do post some successful healing stories and even complete recoveries.

      Although mine attributed to probably the loud sound from my daughter, I have been wearing headphones and earbuds while working out at moderate levels (possibly they were too loud, who knows). So there was just a matter of time it would happen I suppose. Only a month into this but I feel I can get by as mine is an incredibly high pitched electrical noise that fluctuates and modulates every so often. At onset it was barely noticeable but it has gotten more steady as of last week. I feel that the volume is the same but constant. IT'S HARD LIVING WITH 2 NOISY KIDS AT HOME. Trust me. But I wear earplugs when I am at home around them. Mine feels like it increases with volume around noise and lessens to very quiet when I am in a silent location.

      I probably would be pretty good at audiograms then! LOL
      Even though the last one I had a month ago just after my onset was really great and normal.

      Good luck to all of you on this journey! I hope to see more successful recovery posts from you all.
       

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