My Story: Tinnitus Caused by Loud Sound, Worsened by Aspirin — Looking for Advice on Earplugs

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Chris S., Feb 16, 2021.

    1. Chris S.

      Chris S. Member

      Location:
      United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Exposure to loud sound
      Hello, everyone,

      I recently joined this forum when my mild tinnitus (for 10 months) worsened after taking a headache pill that contained some Aspirin (this was about 3-4 weeks ago). I am also a music lover, an audiophile, and an amateur guitar player (have been doing it as a hobby for 23 years - I am at the very beginning of my forties now) and not stopping those hobbies on time (by not being aware of the dangers music playing/listening to music through headphones at lower volumes could still pose), probably also contributed to the tinnitus spike. I hear a high-pitched hiss somewhere in the 8000-10000 Hz register that used to be mild but is now moderate-to-loud, especially at night. I sleep with a white noise-generating machine but sometimes it can't help me enough and I don't usually get enough sleep. I have tried a variety of supplements - Ginkgo biloba, Garlic, Turmeric, co-enzymated vitamin B1, and Magnesium, and all of them (or most of them) actually worsened the tinnitus spike, so I had to discontinue taking them. I was put on Mirtazapine (Remeron) six years ago for TMJ problems (more about this below) and that's the only medication I am currently taking on a regular basis.

      My tinnitus was induced by loud noise after a freak accident, in which a DAC (digital to audio convertor attached to my phone) glitched and I got exposed to extremely loud sound for a couple of seconds before being able to yank off my earbuds. I stopped playing the electric guitar loudly after this, but continued listening to music at lower volumes, using various IEMs. This was probably a serious mistake. After taking a headache pill a few weeks ago that had Aspirin in it, my tinnitus suddenly spiked and has been louder than the previous (mild) base ever since.

      I have a history of severe TMJ problems, but those started more than six years ago and are mostly occlusal (bite-related). I am doing better these days, after a 3-year long orthodontic treatment and while I know that many believe that TMJ issues and tinnitus are related, at least from my experience, they can also be separate issues (which could possibly impact one another in time). My TMJ joint is fine, but I experience often ear fullness, etc. which could perhaps in some ways affect the tinnitus.

      I am also one of those tinnitus sufferers who got an unwelcome "bonus" - visual snow syndrome - about 3 months later. After reading about this condition elsewhere, it seems to be related to the auditory damage that began with the onset of my tinnitus. The visual snow syndrome is relatively mild in my case and easily negligible.

      I read many stories here that warn against using earplugs and this got me concerned. I would like to continue playing the guitar, only acoustically if I have to, but it seems to me that even without any amplification, playing (and especially playing high pitched notes when soloing) irritates my tinnitus. I tried a few brands of musician's earplugs, such as Etymotic and EarPeace (and I am waiting to receive this week Loop Experience Pro earplugs), but found to my chagrin that they also seemed to aggravate my tinnitus. Listening to music at very low volumes through speakers was also a mixed bag and sometimes made my tinnitus louder.

      I teach at a university and when regular classes resume at my institution in the late summer of 2021 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I teach virtual classes these days), I will be routinely exposed to louder noises - which is why I wanted to ask for some advice with using earplugs. So far, all earplugs (silicone or foam) seem to make my tinnitus spike a bit and that bothers me. I would love to be able to find a way to protect my ears and, hopefully, to still be able to enjoy in moderation my musical hobbies. After reading many posts here, it seems that others are also bothered by earplugs - are there any brands/types that actually did not worsen your tinnitus?

      Thanks in advance for reading and for any words of advice and encouragement. Dealing with severe TMJ for 6 years has taught me the virtue of resilience, but I am still new to the world of T spike and it has taken some toll on me - especially in terms of being able to sleep.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Cernuto

      Cernuto Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      I wouldn't give up in playing guitar but I would strongly advise not using earphones or earbuds. Is it possible to practice unplugged electric until possibly your tinnitus calms down?

      For sleep can you increase your Mirtazapine dosage?

      I find simple relaxation techniques help me on the louder days with getting to sleep: Meditation for long periods, soaking in the tub for 30 minutes, slow gentle walking, etc...
       
    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Chris S.

      Chris S. Member

      Location:
      United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Exposure to loud sound
      Thanks for your post! I am already at 30 mg of Mirtazapine and a higher dosage seems undesirable (or so my PCP thinks). I've experimented a bit in the past and taking, for example, 45 mg or 60 mg did not have any obvious benefits.

      I have (sadly) discarded my IEMs and will no longer use them. After being devoted to high fidelity music for so many years, it is a pity, but that's that. Guitar playing (so far at least), even if quiet and without any amplification, seems to be causing spikes.

      The Loop Experience Pro earplugs arrived and, while being very comfortable and very capable (they reduce the sound considerably across all frequencies from -15 dB to -35 dB, and are rated to provide a 25 dB overall reduction), using them also seems to cause a tinnitus spike (I was plowing snow today, while wearing them, to protect my ears from the loud noise of the shovel scraping the ice/cement)). I am also wondering what to do at this point about mowing the lawn when spring comes. A push mower is not an option where I live (too many fallen leaves), so it has to be a quieter electric model, but even those usually exceed 75-80 dB in loudness. So far, every type of silicone or foam earplug I've tried has caused a spike.

      I know that this has been discussed in other posts but it has been quite difficult asking my family to make less noise - my daughter is only 10 and no matter how much we talk about dad's troubled ears, loud noises are still frequent at home.

      Re: meditation & relaxation - having worked for many years in academia has made my mind very "unquiet." I've tried for years various relaxation techniques, etc. to soften the impact of my TMJ problems, but "taming the beast" of my thoughts has proven to be difficult. But, I can try some more!
       
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