Paul from GA: First Noticed Tinnitus When I Was 5 or 6 Years Old, Got Suddenly Worse Two Years Ago

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Paul Wilson, Jul 13, 2020.

    1. Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hi all. I'm Paul from Georgia. I first noticed my tinnitus as a high pitched whining sound when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It wasn't very loud and as long as there was some kind of noise around me, like a fan or air conditioner, I couldn't even notice it. The first time I brought it up was when I was a teenager, 14 I think, to my dad. He said he had it too, often a ringing or whooshing sound, and that it came and went in intensity. I still didn't think much of it.

      In my later teens it got a bit louder but still easily bearable. Then just over two years ago it suddenly got loud. I was watching television one night and could hear the whining noise over the TV. After an hour I started getting annoyed and turned the TV off because at first I thought something was making the noise and I wanted to find out what. But, no, it was my tinnitus.

      It had reached a point where most things couldn't drown out the noise anymore. The only relief I found was the sound of running water or rain. I don't understand why, but water perfectly masks the tinnitus. But you can't listen to running water all the time, meaning for much of my day I had to deal with it. The tinnitus was so loud and constant that it eventually took a psychological toll on me. I started seeing a doctor, who couldn't solve it. Even went to the emergency room once, just a few weeks after it started, because I just couldn't sleep or focus on anything else. It was driving me crazy. The doctor gave me something for anxiety (one Ativan, no prescription) and a referral to an ENT. I wasn't satisfied with the doctor's answer and said something to the effect of "I knew you couldn't do anything." And I stormed out. I was unnecessarily rude to the doctor and looking back I'm embarrassed.

      About an hour later when the medication kicked in, I calmed down and most importantly the tinnitus was back to normal for me. I didn't make the connection at the time, though.

      I later visited a couple of ENT specialists, hoping the tinnitus was caused by something curable or treatable... ear wax blockage, an ear infection, something. But they told me I was a "rare case" as the tinnitus didn't seem to be caused by the typical underlying health conditions, like wax blockage, infection, loud noise damaging my ear, noticeable hearing loss, or a tumor, based on their tests and scans, and my description of it. One ENT figured that maybe my TMJ was causing it (TMJ being a jaw-joint disorder, which typically bothers me when I'm out in the cold for more than 15 minutes at a time). That ENT prescribed steroids and an antihistamine in case I was experiencing inflammation in my jaw.

      I also started seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed me Buspar (in the Xanax family of meds) and amitriptyline at around the same time. For the next ten days after I started combining all this medication, my tinnitus got louder each day. At its worst point, I woke up after maybe three hours of sleep because it was screaming loud. Even running water couldn't drown it out. I had a panic attack and went to the emergency room again. My doctor was so perplexed by the whole situation she even went on WebMD to find an answer.

      I was completely without hope and miserable, and suicidal thoughts were persistent. I stopped taking all the medication (which stopped the screaming loud tinnitus) except for the amitriptyline, and started seeing a new psychiatrist, who put me on Ativan and continued me on the amitriptyline. As many of you probably know, Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication, which has mixed results for those who use it. For me, the Ativan was and still is the only thing that suppresses the loudness of my tinnitus. I don't know why, no doctor understands why. But my psychiatrist and I decided that the benefits outweighed the potential costs, and I've taken Ativan for about two years now.

      To be clear, the Ativan didn't cure my tinnitus (and certainyl doesn't help everyone who takes it). It just helps to manage it where it stays at about the same level it was when I was younger. After a couple of days off the Ativan, I find that my tinnitus gets substantially louder again. I'm not happy about having to take meds daily or near daily, but its a lot better than being miserable and having suicidal thoughts. Certainly better than reaching the point of actually attempting or succeeding in committing suicide.

      Psychologically the idea of there being something that helps manage the tinnitus helps me a lot. I don't feel hopeless and have done really well since.

      Anyways, I decided to finally create an account on this website. Partly because its therapeutic for me reading other people's experiences. Largely, though, I see so many others who struggle and suffer like I did. I wanted to be another voice of hope for people who feel hopeless. It can be frustrating talking about a problem with someone who hasn't experienced it, especially if their reaction is "suck it up and deal with it."

      For anyone suffering like I did, or worse, don't give up. Keep talking to friends and family, keep seeing doctors, and definitely see a psychiatrist if the tinnitus is taking a psychological toll on you. Take whatever reasonable advice you're given and find what helps you cope with the tinnitus. Most people seem to find a combination of things that helps them. Diligently look for what works for you.

      Thanks for reading and take care :)
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