Starting on Horrible Tinnitus Nightmare, with History of Anxiety, Misophonia & TMJ

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by MSmith, Mar 19, 2022.

    1. MSmith

      MSmith Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A little background - I'm 32, about to graduate vet school, and have a very long history of anxiety and misophonia. On 3/9/2022, I was working at my computer when all of a sudden the sound in my right ear cut out and a high frequency ringing started. This has happened a few times before, but always resolved within 30-60 seconds. This time, it didn't. The hearing came back, the ringing stayed. To say it's causing distress, anxiety, desperation, and hopelessness seems like an understatement. It genuinely came out of the blue, no exposure to concerts or loud sounds, no trauma, nothing. I do have TMJ, but the character of the tinnitus doesn't seem to change based on the position of my jaw which I had read is one way to distinguish TMJ related from something else (maybe that's false, who knows...).

      Because of my misophonia, I've always slept with earplugs in as I can't stand the sound of my cats cleaning themselves, drinking water, etc. I have to admit I'd shove them in there pretty deep. I don't know if this could have been an inciting cause, but it's the best reason I can come up with. There's no earwax to easily explain the sudden onset, and no history of hearing loss or events that would cause hearing loss. I'm truly at a loss, and I'm always feeling like I'm at the precipice of a panic attack. I've cried myself to sleep every night since it started. I can't get in to see an ENT until 4/1, and I'm terrified that the longer this goes on the more likely it is to become permanent. I'll add that the ringing is now predominantly in my left ear, and is associated with a mild feeling of fullness in the ear like I need to "pop" it and occasional mild aching pain.

      So I come to you, knowledgeable fellow tinnitus sufferers. Does anyone know statistics about spontaneous disappearance of tinnitus if there's no obvious reason it began in the first place? I'm definitely and acutely aware that maybe there's something more serious going on within my inner ear or brain, which is equally terrifying. I've found some relief actually in playing the exact frequency of my tinnitus (~3600 Hz). For some reason playing the frequency will cause my own ringing to briefly stop after I pause the sound for about 5-10 seconds. Those 5-10 seconds of silence are utter bliss. I'm trying to stay hopeful that one day I will be able to appreciate silence again, that I can listen to the wind in the trees and the crashing of waves on the beach without the intrusive and horrible ringing. I can't imagine how people cope with this over years and years. I already feel like I'm losing my mind, and it's greatly impacted by ability to perform during my clinical rotations. I feel like my nerves, my memory, and my clarity of mind are shot to hell. I can't sleep. I'm angry all the time. I just pray that there may be hope for me.
    2. blamingeverything

      blamingeverything Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      high frequency hearing loss
      It gets better. I can’t promise it will disappear but I promise it will get better. I too wore earplugs while sleeping for some 9 years before tinnitus started and I wondered about that too. My audiologist shook her head no and smiled.

      It’s a brain thing.
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @MSmith.

      You have a lot going on in your life that could have contributed to the onset of tinnitus. Hopefully my advice will give you a few things to consider on the best way moving forward regarding treatment.

      Tinnitus can be caused by many things the most common is exposure to loud sounds. Even though you have said you don't attend concerts and haven't been exposed to loud sounds which is good, I want make sure that you don't have noise induced tinnitus which is still possible.

      Were you ever a regular listener to audio through headphones, earbuds, AirPods, headsets, noise cancelling or bone-conduction headphones, even at low volume? If yes, then the onset of your tinnitus could be caused by using these devices. People that use them often think they are listening at low volume but usually this is not the case. It is not just the volume that is of concern but the duration one uses them for.

      If your answer is no, to both the issues I've raised, then your tinnitus is unlikely to be noise induced.

      Stress can also cause tinnitus. Your long history of anxiety and misophonia are therefore a factor and needs to be addressed, even if they aren't the cause of the tinnitus, they can certainly contribute to making it more intrusive. The best ways to treat this is having counselling with an audiologist that specialises in tinnitus, misophonia and perhaps taking prescription medication too.

      TMJ can also cause tinnitus and make it worse if not treated. An orthodontist should be able to advise you on this.

      Sleeping with earplugs is not such a good idea, as it allows the brain to focus on internal sounds within the head and body. In the process it can increase these and can cause tinnitus to develop and make itself known during waking hours. For this reason many hearing therapists and audiologists advise tinnitus patients not to sleep in a quiet room or use earplugs. Instead use low level sound enrichment by using a sound machine by the bedside to play nature sounds. More about this is explained in my posts in the links below.

      When you are seen at ENT, if tests show the onset of tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical problem within your auditory system, then your ENT should be able to treat it as this is their area of expertise.

      If the onset of tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, stress, anxiety/misophonia, noise induced or a combination of these conditions, I think it's best you are referred to an audiologist who specialises in tinnitus, hyperacusis and misophonia. They will recommend hearing aid(s) if required. Most ENT doctors do not specialise in treating these conditions. In addition to this counselling maybe required with the audiologist.

      Please go to my started threads and read: Tinnitus, A Personal View, The Habituation Process, How to Habituate to Tinnitus.

      All the best,

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      The Complexities of Tinnitus and Hyperacusis | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
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