Should I Return to My Job as a Machinist with Pre-Existing Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Mark F., Dec 28, 2023.

    1. Mark F.

      Mark F. Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2023
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      gunshots
      Hi everyone. I have worked as a Machinist for 30 years. I quit my job over a year ago, so my wife and I could do a bit more living. We are in our 50s. We had money saved for this. My plan was to travel and just focus on enjoying each day, for at least a year... and then I would return to my job (I left on very good terms). My wife was working from home.

      My plan was working out great, for the first 8 months. Then we went hiking and I shot the .357 in May of this year, and my tinnitus trouble began. Luckily it is only mild, but I am wondering if I should go back to a loud machine-shop. I have worn foam earplugs for every shift I worked over 30 years. I have been religious about hearing protection. If I went back to a shop I would certainly continue to protect my ears, but I am worried the cumulative effect of all that daily noise (even while wearing earplugs) might worsen my tinnitus. I really don't want to make a career change this late in the game, but I also don't want to end up with severe tinnitus either.

      Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid. Anyone with experience with this? Chime in construction workers, factory/shop workers, blue-collar workers...
       
    2. Stayinghopeful
      Procrastinating

      Stayinghopeful Member Benefactor

      Location:
      NSW, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Worsened with COVID-19 / Anesthesia
      Hi mate, can you go back to work a few days a week to just see how it goes? Or maybe even get an office job at the place where you were?

      Alternatively, you could invest in good custom molded earplugs or use earmuffs over earplugs as well.

      It's one of those things that no one can tell you what to do. You just might have to see how it goes and then make the call. If you notice your tinnitus getting louder after a shift, I'd consider something else, but if not, then perhaps it's okay to work there with the proper precautions.

      I work in mining and have for 15 years with mild tinnitus. But last June I got COVID-19 and it really ramped my tinnitus up so I'm considering another career path myself. However, for those 15 years my tinnitus was fine with hearing protection.
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You are not being paranoid @Mark F.. Noise-induced tinnitus is not something to take lightly because it can change from mild to severe fast, if one adopts a cavalier attitude thinking nothing can go wrong, because it certainly can! Sorry to sound so sobering.

      I agree with @Stayinghopeful's comments that this really is a decision that you have to make on whether you're able to return to work as a Machinist, something you have done for many years. However, I will give you my thoughts on the matter and hopefully you will give them some consideration.

      It doesn't matter whether you use the best hearing protection available, if external sounds are too loud they can pass through your head and transfer to your inner ear by bone conduction which risks spiking the tinnitus. It may reduce after a short period of time or it could increase to a new permanent level. Please keep in mind, when working in such a noisy environment you may not notice the tinnitus slowly increasing because your brain has had sufficient time to habituate to this condition since May of this year - this often happens to people that have noise-induced tinnitus and therefore, you could find yourself in a situation not noticing the tinnitus reaching uncomfortable levels until it's too late and it changes to what I call variable tinnitus.

      Variable tinnitus is my definition of a more severe form of noise-induced tinnitus. I have it and have counselled people with it. I have written about it at length in my thread: Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus? It can be ruthless and very unforgiving when severe. Please go to my started threads and read it.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Michael
       
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    4. LukeYoung
      Frantic

      LukeYoung Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud Concert - Noise Exposure
      Honestly, I would not risk it. Ever since I got tinnitus, my ears have had nothing but problems. Issues I never faced before the acoustic trauma.

      If you don’t have to, I wouldn’t.
       
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    5. Muggumbo

      Muggumbo Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2023
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert/Acoustic Trauma
      You could always double up on hearing protection by wearing earplugs + earmuffs. I don't know how loud machining can get, but you'll have to use your own best judgement.
       
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    6. LukeYoung
      Frantic

      LukeYoung Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud Concert - Noise Exposure
      Yeah, but bone conduction happens as well.
       
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    7. kingsfan
      Haunting

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      A town near you
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      No.
       
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    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      It doesn't matter how many layers of hearing protection a person with noise-induced tinnitus uses, if external sound is too loud, it will pass through the head and transfer to the inner ear by bone conduction and risks spiking the tinnitus. If a person is fortunate, the spike will reduce within a short period of time enabling the tinnitus to return to baseline level.

      However, the spike could increase the tinnitus to a new permanent level or change its characteristics completely to variable tinnitus. Variable tinnitus is my definition of a more severe form of noise-induced tinnitus. It can be ruthless and very unforgiving when severe and can be difficult to habituate to. Please go to my started threads and read my post: Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus?

      From personal experience and people that I have counselled with noise-induced tinnitus, I have come to the conclusion that once a person develops tinnitus, their auditory system has been compromised and will be more sensitive to sound even after they have habituated. This doesn't mean they should live their life in fear of sound but there are a few precautions they should take.

      My advice is not to listen to audio through any type of headphones even at low volume, and be careful of being in an environment where overly loud sounds are present. In time a person with noise-induced tinnitus will learn the sound levels they are able to comfortably cope with.

      Michael
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mark F.

      Mark F. Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2023
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      gunshots
      Thank you all for replying.
       
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