Potential Noise-Induced Tinnitus — Struggling to Cope as an Anxious Guy

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by ConfusedRicky, Sep 23, 2021.

    1. ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Hey everyone!

      My name is Ricky, I'll be turning 28 tomorrow, and I'm from the UK.

      I've been one of the lucky people working from home for the past 18 months, which means I've been able to get away with working while listening to music through my earphones without getting the stare of doom and disapproval from my manager. Now I just do that to myself in the mirror, realising that this constant whistling kettle in my ear could potentially be with me for life.

      A few weeks ago, about two-and-a-half or three, I noticed a slight ringing in my left ear, kind of like a cat alarm, or the noise that the girl's hearing aid creates in a certain movie I don't want to spoil...

      I've always had pretty good hearing, but I've also suffered a lot from an increased wax build-up in my ears a few times over the last ten years, which always resulted in fullness, but no tinnitus. This time, however, there's no hearing loss at all, but the tinnitus is there. I tried to get an appointment with my GP, but they sent me to a nurse instead, who just said 'you've got a lot of wax' and sent me on my way with some ear drops that are currently doing naff all.

      I've been trying to book an appointment with an audiologist for the last few weeks, but currently getting nowhere with that at all, to check if I have any hearing loss and to get an actual opinion from someone who'll spend more than one second looking in my ears.

      Over all, it's not severe and I'm coping somewhat, but I'm also getting bouts of anxiety which cause spikes here and there, and I don't think I've quite gotten over the idea that this could potentially be with me for the rest of my life. Sleeping has been a mixed bag of full nights and two-hour misery naps, and I definitely miss the experience of listening to music without the unwanted member of the band squeaking in my ear throughout the whole thing.

      I've been lurking in the success stories section for the last week and thought it was probably about time to make an account. I hope you're all having the best day you possibly can, and thank you for being the small light of positivity in an ocean of despair.
       
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    2. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      Hey @ConfusedRicky.

      Very sorry to hear about your recent onset of tinnitus.
      Everyone that has lived a few years have hearing loss, to an extent. There's also "hidden hearing loss" which are usually not detected on a standard audiogram. If you've been a frequent headphone user, I do believe that could be the cause behind your onset of tinnitus. I myself have an alright audiogram, but my left ear has roughly -10dB dip around 4-6 kHz, and it's the same ear which I've used headphones on much more than the right(because I used my right to hear the environment), so headphones can be very harmful without us knowing it.
      Removing wax is usually the first thing doctors do when handling tinnitus. I'll just say that the chances of it being the culprit are next to none, but it can be good to have it removed anyway. One thing you MUST keep in mind is to NOT let them remove wax by microsuction or irrigation because this has been the cause of severe tinnitus worsening for quite a few. Instead, if you have to have it removed, insist on having it done manually; I believe the tool is called a 'curette'.
      It can be good to have the ears evaluated by an audiologist, but do keep in mind that a lot of tests aren't accurate enough to detect the culprit. Additionally, there's also tests which have caused severe tinnitus worsening for quite a few, like Acoustic Reflex Test(sometimes done with Tympanometry). If you really want to do an evaluation, I'd recommend to just stick to a simple Tone audiometry.
      It's great that it isn't very severe, and I believe you have good chances of objective improvement, and even if it doesn't improve, you will most likely get used to the sound. At my initial onset, I pretty much got used to mine completely in 3 weeks and I went on with my life. The time it takes to get used to it(or "habituate") varies from person to person. But I can assure you that your life is not over and you'll most likely be able to live pretty normally.

      I'd recommend you to implement hearing protection in your day to day business, like when visiting public places, and completely avoid very loud venues like concerts and such for the rest of your life. Also be a bit careful at the dentist.

      There's plenty of information dealing with all of this on the forum, so do inform yourself thoroughly.

      I wish you a speedy recovery,
      Stacken
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi Ricky,

      My advice is to stop using your earphones for a while until the ringing in your ears subsides. Earphones, headphones and headset are common causes of tinnitus. Seeing an audiologist is not so important at this early stage and please do not go private. The best help and long term aftercare for tinnitus in the UK is under the NHS. No private practice for tinnitus in the UK can match it. If you are experiencing: deafness, dizziness, problems with balance or acute pain in the ears, then tell your GP who will probably fast-track you to ENT. If you are feeling stressed by the tinnitus talk to your doctor.

      Providing you are not experiencing any of the symptoms I have mentioned, the best treatment for now is to do nothing. Leave your ears alone. Use low level sound enrichment. More about this is explained in the links below. Take your time and read the articles. If you have a printer then print them. You will retain the formation better than reading on a screen which will soon be forgotten.

      Remember to give your ears a rest and not use any type of headphones even at low volume. If you have wax build up this needs to be removed. Before having wax removed, apply eardrops 3x a day to each ear for 7 10 days.

      Take care.
      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Thanks for the comments guys.

      I've noticed that the ringing only appears in my left ear, if that changes anything. I'm not sure if that's something I should hold onto, as I don't want to give myself any false hope.

      I'll try and cut out earphones entirely for now, but they were my one sanctuary from my anxiety, and I'm certainly going to miss being able to just switch off and lose myself in music.

      If anything, it's the idea that this is almost certainly going to be with my for the rest of my life that's causing me the most distress. I don't have a single clue how people are able to habituate to this. At all.
       
    5. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      That's a very wise choice. But remember; if your ears tolerate it, play some music through speakers(on reasonable level). Just dance and enjoy, life is still very beautiful.
      The initial weeks following onset are the toughest, but rest assured that time will take care of it, given you protect your ears diligently and it doesn't worsen. When the anxiety dies down, if you see that the baseline volume of the tinnitus remains stable, the sound will "fade into the background", your mind will be occupied by other things. Before you know it, the only time you may have to deal with it is at bedtime when everything's silent. We should be hopeful for objective improvement of the volume, but if it doesn't happen, try to see the sounds as your new "silence". Don't fight, deny or resist it, just let it be, and continue to get on with life as much as possible.

      Stacken
       
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    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Thanks, Stacken. I really appreciate the positive reinforcement. Just have to wait and see how it goes over the next few weeks.
       
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    7. Sayeed

      Sayeed Member Benefactor

      Location:
      miami fl
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/1/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unsure
      I've read a few times on here how hard it is for our UK friends to book appointments with audiologists. Makes me want to reexamine my support for govt healthcare. As expensive and bad as the healthcare is here in the US, I've had very little issues booking appointments but then again for catastrophic events maybe socialized healthcare is better. I guess I'm on both sides of the fence on this topic.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Okay, so it’s currently 2:45 in the morning. I’ve woken up to the usual tinnitus that I’ve been hearing, but there’s also a whirring in both ears which is freaking me out, and also a loud tone in my right ear that wasn’t there last night before I went to sleep.

      I’m freaking out a bit, and not really sure what to do.
       
    9. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      Try not to worry too much about it. Tinnitus can be a bit unstable in the beginning but it should settle down, although it can take some time.
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      It does seem to be back to normal today, but I'm still a bit shaken after last night. Ended up calling 111 and asking for help, they're going to get my GP to call me at some point today, hopefully to book an appointment so I can rule anything out like an ear infection.
       
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    11. convolution

      convolution Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden - Italy
      Tinnitus Since:
      26/11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      White Noise from Headphones (likely)
      The etiology of tinnitus has not been fully understood yet, so you will likely receive contradictory replies in this forum too. Science seems to somewhat agree that there is a (strong?) correlation between some sort of hearing loss and tinnitus, which is however not a mathematical "->" implication. The best thing you can do at the moment is to assume that your tinnitus will resolve in the next 6-9 months, or else that it will become a non-issue. The likelihood is very high. Drop the earphones and stay away from noisy stressors; play some light music that roughly matches the pitch of your tinnitus. Sleep aids might be considered if the sleep cycle is disrupted.
       
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    12. convolution

      convolution Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden - Italy
      Tinnitus Since:
      26/11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      White Noise from Headphones (likely)
      I think France has a very well-functioning govt healthcare system. Sweden and Italy had a good one too. Mismanagement and underfunding are to blame, not the system per se.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Thanks for the info. Researching tinnitus pretty much anywhere is a nightmare due to all of the contradictory information out there.

      It seems to have settled to an almost impossible to hear volume today. It's only really noticeable because it's so high pitched that it's higher than any music or TV that I'll listen to. There's also a wicked ache in my neck, jaw, cheek, and left ear, which I'm hoping my GP will at least be able to give some advice on.

      I haven't touched earphones since @Michael Leigh's reply yesterday, and surprisingly haven't missed them that much.
      My local surgery is notoriously shit throughout town. I haven't really needed to use them for anything, except for a nervous breakdown, about seven years ago, and the treatment I received for that was terrible.

      I think you're right that underfunding is the primary issue though, which is especially evident after all the bs that was spouted during the Brexit vote.
       
    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      My advice is to never use any type of headphones again even at low volume. Your tinnitus is likely to improve with time and will probably only be noticeable in very quiet surroundings if you listen for it. What I am saying is not absolute but is likely to happen if you listen and follow my advice.

      When your tinnitus reduces you may be tempted to return to using headphones, earphones or headsets and keep the volume low, with the belief everything will be fine. However, should you choose to go down this path you are taking a risk and literally playing with fire. The tinnitus is still there waiting quietly in the background and ready to strike. Be smart and leave headphones alone and be careful of subjecting your ears to overly loud sounds.

      The NHS has its problems and probably your GP surgery too. However, should you ever need help with tinnitus, you will get the best help and long term aftercare in the UK under the NHS. Believe me, I know whereof I speak.

      Michael
       
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    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      So a week later, my mental health has improved massively. I've been using white noise to fall asleep, and have gone from 2-3 hours per night to 6-7, which has me waking up actually refreshed, rather than tired and aggressive.

      The tinnitus itself is kinda weird and fluctuates a lot. Sometimes, especially first thing in the morning, it's very loud, but during the day it's more like a very high pitched whistle, mixed with a slight hiss almost. But it's easy to go about doing stuff without it distracting me. I'm conscious it's there, but I'm sure that'll fade away eventually as I get more used to it.

      Another thing to note is that I haven't been suffering from any hyperacusis at all. The tinnitus doesn't seem to react to sound in any way, but I've stayed away from headphones entirely, except for work calls, just to be safe.

      Went back to the doctors, who confirmed that there's no ear infection, but enough wax clogged up that they couldn't see my eardrums, which is weird because I don't have any muffled feeling at all, and can hear things perfectly fine. Obviously, I'm not expecting the tinnitus to disappear when the wax does, but it'll be nice to remove it anyway.
       
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    16. Pero1234

      Pero1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      home theatre system + high pressure washer
      Hi Ricky,

      I followed Michael’s advice on headphones as well, three years ago. Whenever I did use them... I felt that, even at relative low volumes, they do seem to put a heavy strain on your ears.

      Best to let your ears rest for now.

      I can relate to your disappointment with losing your musical sanctuary. For me, that was the same: music via headphones was the one thing that never failed to relax me.

      I needed my music to get me through this.

      As an alternative I bought a pair of decent speakers for my PC... You can get those for around 300 euros. It’s costly but worth the investment imho. And it’s the closest you can get to good audio quality without straining your ears with headphones. Just keep the volume low.

      After habituating, I can say that I still enjoy my music collection and with custom molded ear plugs (-25 or -15 dB) I’m visiting (seated) concerts again without issues or fear.

      Tinnitus does not have to mean that you lose the music my friend :)

      Habituation takes time... be gentle with yourself.

      Good luck!
       
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    17. Mister Muso
      No Mood

      Mister Muso Member

      Location:
      Scotland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2007 / April 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      It may only be ringing in one ear so far, but remember your "good" ear has been everywhere with you just like your "bad" ear, subjected to the same pressures. It may not be long till you get symptoms in that ear too if you don't take every possible precaution now.

      Try not to worry and see your doc about temporary aids for sleep and anxiety which should become easier over time.
       
    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ConfusedRicky
      Balanced

      ConfusedRicky Member

      Location:
      Stamford, England
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Maybe noise trauma
      Well, the weird whistling in my left ear had disappeared for a couple of weeks, leaving just a faint ringing, but it seems to have come back this afternoon.

      Oh well, the initial shock and worry had worn off now, so it's more of a minor annoyance than anything else.
       
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