Tapering Off Hearing Protection

Discussion in 'Support' started by Sen, Aug 22, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. Sen
      Caffeine

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October, 2012.
      Has anyone considered just ditching hearing protection altogether and attempting to endure the pain and suffering?

      I'm reaching that point. It kind of feels like I have nothing to lose anymore. Maybe I'll be part of the lucky group who improves by doing this.
       
    2. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      nah; I use earplugs any time I'm around obnoxiously loud sounds (riding a motorcycle, walking by the highway, in a busy restaurant, etc). I also usually sleep with earplugs in because my ears seem to appreciate a solid 8-hour rest.

      I don't wear them in regular day-to-day conversational noise levels; if I was, then I would probably try to stop doing that if possible.

      I used to think that my (not that bad) H & ear pain related to noise exposure, but in my case, H is 100% an anxiety symptom, and ear pain is almost 100% related to muscle tension (which is fed by anxiety).
       
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    3. Sen
      Caffeine

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October, 2012.
      Well yeah, I don't mean exposing myself to excessive noise, but for quite a long time I've been wearing hearing protection pretty much everywhere outside of my house (and much of the time inside of it too) because exposure to uncomfortable or painful noise tends to worsen my hyperacusis for periods of time. My hyperacusis was measured as severe, and it feels like it has worsened since I initially had my LDLs tested. Even during my period of mild improvement it was more severe than it was at the start.

      I'm just contemplating what would happen if I stopped wearing it around noises I find uncomfortable from day to day. Stuff like clinking dishes and the tap running, doors opening and closing, PC speakers at a more audible volume, etc. Would I stay in a permanent setback? Would it eventually improve even while doing this?
       
    4. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I've seen a lot of stories over the years from people who said their H didn't improve until they made a conscious effort to ignore it and not "over protect", but we're all different. I'd be sort of shocked if something like tap water could do permanent damage to your auditory system; on the other hand, simply being in a state of distress/anxiety/over-arousal for an extended period is pretty conclusively known to be neurotoxic. So, the thing to do, is to calm your system down, be less fixated, and less distressed -- but how exactly to do that is a personal battle.

      Avoidance behavior across the board tends to be a feedback loop. If you look at something like severe agoraphobia -- very few people wake up one day and are totally unable to leave their house, usually there is a progression of avoiding more and more forays into the world until eventually it's impossible to get out the front door. So, in general, the way to combat that is to force oneself to do a little more than feels comfortable, over and over, until eventually you're able to do all the things you want to do. My guess is that same basic principle is why some people's H gets better when they stop over-protecting.
       
    5. Sen
      Caffeine

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October, 2012.
      I get that, it's just that the reason I began to avoid noise in the first place was because it exacerbated symptoms. The symptoms didn't become worse as I avoided noise, it was in fact the opposite. The more I exposed myself to noise, the worse my symptoms became. My symptoms have actually not worsened since I began avoiding noise, they've stayed relatively stable, and I actually went through a period of improvement.

      Maybe this is all me doing mental gymnastics though. I'm genuinly starting to doubt my own sanity at this point.
       
    6. Sebastians

      Sebastians Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      13/10/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Guitars, loud girls and guns
      This is a tough one. Some people's H just clears up by itself over the course of several months, provided they are not exposed to a new trauma, and others experience permanent worsening over time.
      My mild H (more annoyance at some sound and sound distortion) got better when i started wearing earplugs outside. I can now feel comfortable in quieter outside environments like parks, beer gardens, quiet streets etc.
      But i've read stories of people suffering setbacks over glasses clanking loudly or balloon explosion etc.
      Whatever you do, try gradually at home to wean off the plugs and don't rush into things. Perhaps try low level audio for short periods of time and then rest pauses.
      I've had some pretty bad tendonitis in my right elbow from lifting heavy weights at the gym. It gradually got better by a combination of rest and mild but high volume lifting to increase bloodflow and endurance. I hope it's kind of the same with H.
       
    7. Sen
      Caffeine

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October, 2012.
      what if you've had it for 4 years
       
    8. whale
      No Mood

      whale Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/25/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Myofascial crap Bruxism, a jackhammer, stress who knows
      I got a sound meter, and a sound meter app on the phone and ear protection in my pocket. slowly over time I attempt higher decibel within the "normal" comfort level. Each time I attempt a goal and keep at the level and protect above that level. I'll keep that range for like 3 or 4 months,(it could be longer) then try and up the level and do it again.

      for example, when the kids put on the TV , I check the meter to see where the meter is at. if its below or within my range I'll leave them out, if it passes. I will put them and tell them to turn that crap down.
       
    9. whale
      No Mood

      whale Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/25/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Myofascial crap Bruxism, a jackhammer, stress who knows
      agree, I went to fast too soon early on and set myself back to where I'm still not at. I was new to having H and was told it was just my imagination, so I put on range muffs and did some yard work with a reciprocating saw. When I took off the range muffs my T and H wear off the chart. I didn't leave my room for rest of the week. I've protected myself since. I think if there ever is a day recover ,I will double protect for yard work.
       
    10. Telis

      Telis Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Calgary
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013
      Yeah I don't protect a lot, I can't wear plugs with raging T, I highly doubt anyone can. If I had mellow T, I would always protect and see if I could heal my H and ear pain. Ear plugs are not a option for me, the T noise gets too loud and painful, I woukd be laid out in a hour with a migraine from T noise.

      And who can handle wearing plugs when you have H anyway? Chewing food, talking an walking are louder than protecting from average everyday noises anyway.
       
    11. Ring Ding

      Ring Ding Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1985
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I've had the hyperacusis for around 4 months now. I use very little protection or as little as possible. Only when I really feel I can't take it. I hate wearing the ear plugs because it just increases the amount of fullness I have whenever I do and I really hate it so much.

      I work in Manhattan and it's like walking through a mine field. I just wear regular over the ear headphones when I am walking by construction spots and stuff like that and also when I am on the train. I no longer use any protection at all in my home and I can now go back into the kitchen and cook and put dishes and silverware away with only slight discomfort. It's still sounds really loud but I'd doesn't make my ears close up. There are still sounds that set me off but I never know what it's going to be anymore.

      Also I just got back from a nice vacation and I only used the earplugs on the boardwalk and even then I made it a point to try and stick it out a little while without them. I even took my kids to a water park that had music speakers everywhere with no protection the whole time. That ended up being really unpleasant , cheapo speakers just sound bad and do bring pain for sure. I still can't talk on my phone at all. Still feels like I made a little progress. The fullness and Tinnitus remain very bad though.
       
    12. HiThere

      HiThere Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/01/1975
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Delivery by forceps? Childhood ear infections?
      I, too, like @Telis, have the double edged sword, H and T. If I only had H, I could see forcing myself to desensitize to loud sounds as the audiologist I consulted with recommended that I do. I refuse to do this because.....

      I'm a juxtaposition of auditory oddities: Hyperacusis, Tinnitus and hypersensitive hearing. Even with lifelong T and being over 40, I can hear higher frequencies that most people my age as well as being able to pick up very quiet sounds. I don't recall what level my T registers at from my most recent audiology exam, but I would assume it's at a medium level. My T is not deafening nor do I get migraines from it. However, it's quite prominent.

      @Telis: It sounds like earplugs are not an option for you due to the plugs drowning out all but your T thereby turning your perception of your T "up to eleven". I feel for you.

      I still wear earplugs often. If I'm caught without earplugs at a movie or taking a walk outside (car noise), I will stuff dampened tissue in my ears. My problem? Loud environments have an effect of cranking my T "to eleven" for days afterward. Not cool at all. Therefore for me, I'd rather hear my T at its "normal" level I've had all my life, isolated as it is by wearing earplugs, than pay significantly for days afterward by no plugs in a loud environment.

      1. Exposure to loud sounds without ear protection = louder T for days. No thanks.
      2. Wearing earplugs = isolated T (not louder, but by drowning out everything else, T takes center stage) but eliminates 1.

      The lesser of two evils for me most often is option 2......

      Chris
       
    13. Coyotesheaven
      Depressed

      Coyotesheaven Member

      Location:
      Utah
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/18/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Dysautonomia/Vascular
      Many doctors advise to do so, and I think you should in many situations where the noise level is below 80 decibels, 70-75 over extended periods.

      But if you have hyperacusis, there is a good chance that your ears are more vulnerable to damage from loud noise or other triggers. That means you need remain aware of loud noises and wear earplugs at appropriate times, just not all the time ;). I would download a decibel app on your phone and monitor the level of environmental sounds when you are in noisier places. If you are out on busy streets, in crowded restaurants, mowing the lawn, etc, you need to wear earplugs to keep you safe, or really any time when the decibel level goes above 75-80 for a while. Even when washing dishes it may be a good idea.

      In all other situations, it is best to follow your ent's advice and to slowly acclimate yourself.
       
    14. squeek

      squeek Member

      Location:
      Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise impact/maybe seaborn
      I took a gradual exposure strategy. In the very beginning I would take out my earplugs and walk two metres into a shopping centre and walk back out. The following week I would walk 4 metres in. I kept challenging myself further and further.

      It's going to be about discovery, which environmental sounds your tinnitus is going to handle. I still can't handle restaurants and kitchens, for example so I do everything to avoid that situation.
       
    15. ruben ruiz

      ruben ruiz Member

      Location:
      Tucson, AZ
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I believe it was meds and stress
      Dr. Wilder swears that protecting your ears from certain sounds is so important. I remeber I was getting better my friend asked me if I wanted a ride on his quad. OK my ears are better I regret it to this day.
       
    16. Sen
      Caffeine

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      October, 2012.
      who is Dr. Wilder?
       
    17. lapidus

      lapidus Member

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I think he meant Dr. Wilden. The low level laser doctor.
       

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