Normal Life After Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by jbgbarlund, Aug 18, 2015.

    1. Something I´ve been wondering a long time is: How carefully do you protect your ears?

      I´ve been reading a lot on the subject and everyone seems to have so different techniques. Everything from people not being outside anymore, or atleast not in an environment they can't control the sounds. And people who is outside but wears ear plugs almost constant to avoid e.g. traffic sounds. And people whom brings earplugs with them all the time but only uses them when they think they need to, e.g. restaurants and such places. To people who have lost all their hyperacusis over time and almost their tinnitus with it, so they do almost never protect their ears. And people who live just as before and even attends bars and night clubs without any ear plugs.

      So all the reading hasn't made me any smarter. And it's ofcourse individually how careful one needs to be, everyone has their own limits, even though some limit needs to be average. I think that any sounds between 80-90dB is potentially dangerous, and needs to be protected from if possible.

      The best strategy must be to use ear plugs almost constant if there wasn't for two things:

      1) To limit the amount of frequencies from the spectrum that the brain can register, tends to create new sounds within the spectrum of frequencies that were lost do to ear plug use.

      2) Hyperacusis may occur.

      But even if one can survive the louder tinnitus that is a fact if one protect ones ears almost constant, it kind of takes away the joy of being alive and free, hence one isn't free, and always reminded of that stupid tinnitus. It isn't an optimal strategy in practice, even if it is in theory.

      So my question is: How do you do, and why do you do as you do?

      I'm among those who always have ear plugs with me, but rarely uses them. And that is because I have a hard time believing that normal everyday sounds may be harmful. But still there are loud motorcycles, buses and so on that makes me wonder. I'm considering to be more careful because even if I can't recognize any new sounds at the end of the day I'm kind of scared that new sounds may occur slowly and that I will realize that too late.

      The reason I ask is because I think I may coop with my T over time, but then I need to avoid any further damage, and maybe it's the same for you guys and other people who becomes new members. This is something one needs to know from the start after onset, and not something everyone should discover by themselves.

      Thankful for any answer I might get :)
    2. nills

      nills Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma
      hyperacusis worsens when you over protect your ears ... I`m starting to believe my T has emerged because of a lack of auditory input. The brain is too smart so when there is too much silence it will crank up the volume in the brain ... and this results in T and H too ... because sounds will appear too loud.

      I was living in forest away from society and inside a house ... very VERY quiet ... and one night ... pieeeeeeeep ... suddenly it was there ...

      I only wear earplugs in places that can cause damage ... any other place I bite my teeth when I need to.

      When I was working in a restaurant after a long shift in noise (kitchen) I would come home to quiet T ... because you are in so much noise the brain adapts and cranks down the volume ... unfortunately it doesn`t seem to be smart enough to stay in that mode ...
    3. Mad maggot

      Mad maggot Member

      New zealand
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I'm not a doctor but have read a fair bit while trying to find a diagnosis for my weird symptoms which involve my eyes as well as noise in my ear.

      From what I've read hyperacusis doesn't appear to be a problem within your ear so much as in the brain. So it seems that ear plugs do more harm due to this. But I'm pretty sure that some hyperacusis would be due to something within the ear itself malfunctioning because there are many causes of T also and some can be from things in the actual ear while some are coming from the brain.
      If you've been thoroughly checked by an ENT and nothing physically wrong can be found then chances are the hyperacusis is from the brain. In that case ear plugs may not be a good choice. But some people here have it so bad that not using them isn't a good choice for them either because they cannot cope without them.

      No easy answers for many here. I don't protect my ears apart from common sense that all should use whether they have T or not. But occasionally I've put cotton wool in my affected ear when I've had bouts of hyperacusis but I've done it for only brief periods like one or two hours maybe twice in the last three months when my kids were loud and I couldn't cope. Usually I'll take myself to the bedroom and rest a while instead. But I don't have hyperacusis all the time like others here.
    4. Veita
      No Mood

      Veita Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise from Headphones
      This is a great question, and something that I've been struggling with over the past three and a half months since my noise trauma.

      I have decided that I can sacrifice certain things, although heartbreaking for me, as I love concerts, crazy roller coasters, and many other high energy events. But, I have decided that as shitty as this disease may be, there are a lot of amazing things I can still do in life.

      Here are a few lists of things, along with the protection level I'd use to do them. They aren't complete lists, but just examples to give a sense of what I consider safe.

      Things I will likely never do again (regardless of the protection)
      • Loud Concerts
      • Mild - Loud Nightclubs
      • Certain Roller Coasters
        • I rode with earplugs and had a huge spike for a week and it still comes in and out.
        • Some coasters seem fine though, just be cautious because it's hard to tell how loud it will be before the damage is done.
      • Slam Doors
      • Similar high energy events.

      Here are things I would likely only do with earplugs and over the head protection:
      • Mow the lawn
      • Dirt-biking / ATVs / Snow Mobiles (haven't tried this yet, but I imagine it would be ok)
      • Work with large machinery / tractors

      Here are some things I still expose myself to, but only with earplugs:
      • Average Bars
      • Quieter Nightclubs
      • Louder Restaurants
      • Loud Intersections
      • Alpine Sliding
      • Milder Concerts
      • Movie Theater
      • Traveling in a loud environment
      • Playing Certain Sports (people scream a lot)
        • I've noticed tennis / squash can be loud and use earplugs
        • Baseball is loud when hitting the ball
      • Average Parties
      • Large Sporting Events
        • I have yet to try this, and I am nervous to.. But I imagine earplugs may be sufficient

      Here are some things I would do cautiously without earplugs:
      • Quiet Bars
      • Walk around downtown (feel this one out)
      • Outdoor concerts from a distance
      • Lazer Tag (feel this one out too)
      • Average Volume Restaurants
      • Fairs and festivals (just be careful to avoid certain areas)
      • Hackathons
      • Normal traveling
      • Water slides
      • Going to the gym (depends on the gym, weights can be very loud)
      • Coffee Shops
      • Produce Music
      • Playing Certain Sports

      Here are things I would likely be fine with doing without earplugs:
      • Beach / Swimming
      • Mall Shopping
      • Skiing
      • Hiking
      • Cycling
      • Stay home / TV / computer (obviously)
      • Golfing / mini-golf
      • Bowling
      • Boating / Windsurfing / Fishing
      • Camping

      Anyways, just wanted to give some generalized examples. There are probably exceptions to most of these things. Either way, it's impossible to avoid those random situations (like when someone comes up to you and screams in your ear as a joke because they're excited). There will always be freak things that happen. You can protect against everything and be miserable or take some risks and likely be fine.

      Also, one more thing, I purchased a pair of noise isolating earbuds which cut out a lot of noise and will often use these in situations like walking around downtown / traveling. This way I can still feel completely normal but have a good amount of protection. I rarely actually use them to listen to music, but I do talk on the phone with them a lot. Here's the link to the ones I bought, although I'm not totally psyched with them. After a few weeks one of the earbuds suddenly became quieter than the other (ironically in the ear I have hearing loss) but they are inexpensive:

      Also, these are the earplugs I have been using, although I am planning to get new ones soon with more protection. These ones are nice though because they're practically invisible unless someone is standing 45 degrees behind you:

      I also have a dB SPL meter which can be helpful when your really not sure of the volume of a place. I use the max feature a lot:
    5. I who love music

      I who love music Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      mid seventies
    6. Xynic

      Xynic Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      You'll find a bunch of wildly different replies on this here forum, I personally am firmly on the "the brain needs a healthy amount of noise" side. The stresss is on healthy though, so don't go to a death metal concert without ear protection. Still, for me personally spikes almost exclusively come in silent environments, strange eh? Conversely, the amount of times my tinnitus spiked after going out to a noisy bar or something like that is zero.

      My explanation for that is that in silent environments (especially conscious silent einvironments - those you sought out to avoid sounds), if you're not fully habituated, you're going to consciously hear your tinnitus. If you're going to consciously hear it, chances are you'll worry about it. If you'll worry about it, chances are you'll concentrate on it more. And if you concentrate on it more, it's possible that your brain goes, "wait, this is important? Well let's crank it up then, what are we doing here!"

      See, you need to feed your brain auditory information that's actually relevant, unlike the tinnitus which isn't. The brain is pretty good at distinguishing. Ever notice how we can understand each other in conversation even when a plane is flying by overhead? This is because our brain is so good at isolating and focusing on important sounds. If we recorded that same conversation with a microphone, loads of post-processing would need to be done before we could use it in a movie, say, and it would probably still fail. Yet in real life, we usually have no trouble with a situation like that. We also talk with each other in street traffic or at a restaurant without becoming confused about all of the sounds.

      This ability of the brain to concentrate on the important stuff and drown the rest out is also the mechanism behind habituation, to an extent at least, and masking. With time, the brain learns that the tinnitus is not a relevant sound (the only reason it takes so long is that you've gone all of your previous life without hearing it, plus it's usually at some alarming frequency, and still the brain is amazingly flexible enough to adapt). But if you overprotect yourself from sound, you might end up teaching your brain instead that outside sounds are evil and are to be avoided and not concetrated upon. As a result, your brain might go, "alright then, well let's concentrate on this buzz instead! I gotta concentrate on something here, after all."

      I actually notice sometimes how I can consciously shift my focus. It doesn't always work (it really needs to be automatic), but sometimes I can just jump-shift my focus to the tinnitus to the outside sound. As a result, the tinnitus immediately fades into the background and becomes unnoticeable. This is how your brain needs to learn to be all the time, automatically. If you avoid sounds like the plague, you're making it pretty hard for your brain to do so. That's like wanting to teach someone to learn how to read but giving them virtually no books.

      One last thing, and one that I never get tired of repeating: it's important to keep in mind that you're going to get biased advice on here on the whole on topics like this. This is because people who are fully habituated and don't perceive their tinnitus as an issue are highly unlikely to be active members, and so there's going to be a stronger bias towards worry and protection. From the rational point of view you'll prefer to take advice from people who are doing perfectly well - who are, paraxodically, not or almost not represented here. This is not a criticism, it's just important to put anything you read into context, especially online.
      • Agree Agree x 1
    7. MSO Bassist

      MSO Bassist Member

      Milwaukee. WI
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Workplace environment-Later worsened by multiple drugs.
      That was incredibly well put. I couldn't agree more.Thank you.

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