Poll: How Does Your Tinnitus React to Silence/Earplugs?

Discussion in 'Support' started by 999, Oct 5, 2021.

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How is your tinnitus when you wear earplugs or are in a silent room?

  1. My tinnitus gets very much louder and more complex in silence.

  2. My tinnitus remains the same as it was; just incrementally louder as backround noise is removed.

  3. My tinnitus gets better.

  4. None of the above (reply in comments)

Results are only viewable after voting.
    1. 999

      999 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Auditory trauma
      Hello. Please bear with my question and read this post.

      I don't know much about other people's tinnitus. I have decided to start wearing hearing protection when driving. My perception of my tinnitus grows intensely strong when I am wearing hearing protection / with the same thing in a silent room. When I am in the office and there is noise from the air conditioning and other sources, for example, I still hear the tinnitus; but it is like an electric static ring. I don't hear it in the shower either. and it is barely perceptible if I am listening to some sort of media. However, in silence or with earplugs it becomes insanely intense and more complex in nature. It is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

      I have read about people wearing earplugs a lot (which is probably a good idea.) However, for the above mentioned reasons, I can't have hearing protection in without what I described above happening.

      It has been two months since my 'acoustic trauma' so I know that things may only change around 6 to 12 months from now. I just am curious as to whether or not other people's tinnitus goes through this exponential growth in silence or if it just behaves like a noise that stays the same (whether or not other sounds are present.) I have known what tinnitus was for years, but could never imagine how it ramps up exponentially in silence. I hate that evolution apparently stripped us of our ability to repair our hearing when other tetrapods are able to easily regrow the cells in the cochlea. I realize now that every day of my life where something horrible didn't happen was apparently a miracle.
       
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    2. Wrfortiscue
      Provocative

      Wrfortiscue Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Trauma
      Yeah one of my tone starts off very faint and gets louder.
       
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    3. Damocles
      Spooky

      Damocles Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Hi @999 mate.

      I often see you lurking on Tinnitus Talk, and notice that we tend to like the same posts, therefore felt compelled to contribute an answer to your question.

      First of all, there are no cast iron rules or truths governing our understanding of tinnitus; the only certainty is that acoustic trauma can cause it and make it worse. Everything after that fact is just opinion, anecdote and theory.

      With that in mind: it is my believe that it is impossible for silence to worsen tinnitus.

      Of course it can enhance the perceived volume of tinnitus, as a result of the brains propensity to hone in on whatever sound(s) it can detect. But silence is by it's very definition nothing: the absence of any physical disturbance in the atoms surrounding us, and can therefore cause no permanent harm or change to our physical state of being.

      What silence can do however, is worsen hyperacusis and perhaps (as I have noted in a friend on here, who will undoubtedly chip in later) reactivity also.

      Why should it have an effect on hyperacusis? Just the basic process of deprivation leading to over-sensitivity. Like when one spends hours or days in a dark room and then steps out into bright sunlight, then almost goes blind.

      Reactivity on the other hand, is a lot more complicated. But it seems to me, that in the same way the ear(s) and brain search desperately for sound input, and exhibit worsened hyperacusis as a result of a deficit; the same over-excited neurons in the brain causing our tinnitus are poised for anything they can latch onto, and then go crazy when a sound is finally "fed" to them.

      Anyway, these are just the beliefs I've formed over my decade of suffering, and all of it could be proven wrong tomorrow.

      But from what I've observed, (over) protecting your ears is never a bad thing, if like me, you see hyperacusis and reactivity as the lesser evils, vs tinnitus infinitely climbing in volume.
       
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    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @999.

      Quiet rooms and surroundings are not good for someone with tinnitus, as there is the tendency for the brain to increase its background activity due to no external sound source being present and therefore, in the process the tinnitus is likely to increase. If one practices to be in silence and quiet rooms often, there is the risk of the increase in tinnitus becoming more permanent. Neither is it a good idea to wear hearing protection too often. However, used judiciously certain benefits can be acquired using noise reducing earplugs that are explained in my thread: Hyperacusis, As I See It. Please read it and others mentioned below, as they cover noise trauma and hyperacusis in detail.

      You are new to noise induced tinnitus and have some oversensitivity to sound that could indicate the hyperacsusis. This condition often accompanies noise trauma and varies in severity like tinnitus. I believe if you follow some of my suggestions there is a good chance your recovery will be steady and long term. My advice is not to use any type of headphones even at low volume. This includes earbuds, AirPods and headsets.

      Please go to my started threads and read the following posts: New to Tinnitus, What to Do? Tinnitus, A Personal View. Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? Tinnitus and the Negative Mindset. Acquiring A Positive Mindset. The Habituation Process. How to Habituate to Tinnitus. From Darkness into Light. The Complexities of Tinnitus and Hyperacusis.

      Please print the posts mentioned and refer to them often rather than just reading on a screen. Take your time to read and absorb the information. This will help to reinforce positive thinking. Tinnitus can affect our mental and emotional wellbeing quite significantly. Please use low level sound enrichment especially at night. More about this is explained in the articles.

      All the best
      Michael

      Hyperacusis, As I See It | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    5. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      This is most likely due to a change perception, and less likely due to objective volume changes. Of course, when I momentarily take of my hearing protection, I can hear my tinnitus very faintly, but with hearing protection, in the absence of sound enrichment, it can be quite intrusive. It's all part of the package, we have to deal with it.
      Only thing I could think of is if we totally deprive ourselves of sound for days or weeks. In that case, we might simulate hearing loss, hence more tinnitus being generated, but I have a hard time believing that effect is quick. So I agree with that.
      I'm quite certain my hyper-spiking-reactivity got induced by over-protection, but I'm not certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it do looks like it. If I remember correctly, your spiking/reactivity did improve over time as you gracefully reduced the amount of day to day protection and silence, right?
      This sounds like a very reasonable explanation, and I've been thinking the same thing.
       
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    6. martinberryhorse

      martinberryhorse Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Aug 5, 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      One hard cough
      Well this is weird. I seem to be the only one here whose tinnitus improves with earplugs. It's actually something I do when I am overwhelmed. I will put on earmuffs and walk, lay down, sit, etc... and after about 8 minutes my ringing becomes a much more manageable hiss, temporarily of course.
       
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    7. Damocles
      Spooky

      Damocles Member Benefactor

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      I'd say it is too, but it's good to make room for doubt. We can't say we know for certain, but everything points that way, and we shouldn't ignore our instincts either.
      Yes that's right. I won't deny the past has become somewhat of a blur; like someone who was escaping a war zone, I wasn't committing my experiences to memory, just trying to survive them.

      That said, I definitely recall having dreadful spikes caused by the mildest of noises in the early years, which I don't experience now. The only thing I changed between that time and today was the dropping of the use of protection in every environment (including my Home). Which leads me to believe hyperacusis and reactivity can be effectively treated via sound enrichment.
      It's a plausible theory for now, but one day we'll actually know what's going on.
       
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    8. sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      When I wear hearing protection, I can hear the tinnitus much more clearly because there's nothing to mask it. But if I don't wear hearing protection and expose myself to noises that are too loud (driving in a car for example), then my ears end up ringing more.

      For some reason, I find it easier to ignore the louder ringing while wearing hearing protection than the lesser ringing while not wearing it. I just kind of tune out all sound with protection on. But when not wearing it, I don't like hearing the ringing over normal sounds.

      I would vote for all three options in this poll if I could.
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      999

      999 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Auditory trauma
      Thanks to everyone who has voted/responded so far—it is very much appreciated.

      @Damocles, yes you caught me. I have definitely been lurking all around this forum; generally looking at stories of improvement from various acoustic incidents and exposures, habituation success stories, and the trickle of news surrounding hearing restoration drugs (even if the researchers seem to mostly ignore those with tinnitus for what ever reason—hopefully, I’m missing something.) I did have noticeable hyperacusis for 2-3 weeks following onset; maybe I still do minimally.... At first, the sound of central air conditioning was torturous and I even asked to move away from an air vent in the ceiling where I work due to this. I remember cringing from the “beep beep beep” of someone locking their car with a remote key, and reacting to squealing breaks I heard. I am glad that this has not remained accentuated in everyday life. It could be that I was experiencing a tiny spike of tinnitus and hyperacusis when I wrote the original post. I completely would agree as @Michael Leigh put it, “Quiet rooms and surroundings are not good for someone with tinnitus”; it looks like many other people have a similar experience, but not all. I have read many stories of just how absolutely debilitating hyperacusis can be, and I hope that those with it can heal. I try to be very careful with the volume of speakers and don’t use over/in ear devices or play music now. I can say that the first three weeks with this were the toughest of my entire life.
      Right. Also, I realized that putting in ear plugs does not have as intense an effect as just wearing ear muffs for whatever reason (maybe some type of "I can hear the ocean" effect.)

      As I said, for me tinnitus grows exponentially when it has the ability to fill silence. I am hoping that this dulls down eventually. Thanks again.
       
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    10. AbeS

      AbeS Member

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise/headphones
      My tinnitus gets much worse when I wear earplugs compared to earmuffs. Same thing when I press my tragus into the ear. It’s almost as if there are new sounds even.
       
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    11. MBH

      MBH Member

      Location:
      Upstate NY
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Overloaded stress
      When I'm in silence all hell breaks loose. My tinnitus goes up a few notches and can take awhile to go back down.
       
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