The Psychology — or Physiology — of Tinnitus Spikes

Discussion in 'Support' started by Sven, Oct 1, 2019.

    1. Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      Has anyone here heard whether someone has measured brain activity during a spike? I mean, is there research on spikes and to what extent they are actual (temporary) increases of tinnitus or just perceived increases of tinnitus?

      The reason for my question is that I'm once again going through a period of what is hopefully just a temporary - psychological - spike and I keep thinking how similar they've all been through the years. My perception of the sound and how my head feels and how I react to them. Until they finally fade. (Or I habituate, sometimes with a small actual increase, but by far not as noticable as during the spike itself).

      I hope you understand what I mean. :)
       
    2. JohnAdams
      Festive

      JohnAdams Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Vatican
      Tinnitus Since:
      May 1st 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Aspirin Toxicity/Possibly Noise
      I would think that spikes are in fact increased levels of hyperactivity/sensitivity of the auditory system. There is no way that this disease is just all in our perceptions.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      I'm not saying that it's entirely in our perceptions, but we all now how thinking about it and worrying about it can increase our anxiety and stress and level of tinnitus. My tinnitus is very real.

      A doctor whom I talked about a spike more than five years ago explained to me how we build this "psychological defence" towards the noise and that defence is the habituation. Our anxiety/worry then razes that defence for a while until we re-habituate back. It made sense at the time, anyway.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. John Mahan

      John Mahan Member

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      Somewhat unknowable and clear synergy between tinnitus intensity and psychological status I believe. Chicken versus egg, which came first?

      My belief Sven, is tinnitus is mostly a physiological disorder from which your psychological disorder emanates. Your anxiety is a 'result' of your spike and not cause.

      But, likely anxiety on some level could trigger a spike...because of a change in brain chemistry which is a physiological change. If say, you could identify a change in your life that made you more anxious, this could contribute to a spike.

      I believe your hardware and software like a computer are interwoven. But tinnitus is principally a hardware failure that your software recognizes. Your DNA aka hardware also preordains your personality and predisposition for tinnitus. My Audiologist believes in a strong hereditary linkage with hearing loss and tinnitus.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    5. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      I pretty much completely agree with this. There are physiological and psychological components to tinnitus (as there are to almost all disorders). But as @John Mahan suggested, the physiological symptoms are the true disorder; the psychological symptoms the reaction/contributor to that disorder.

      Consider cancer: clearly this is not psychological. Yet we know that one's outlook on the disease, their stress levels, their optimism, can play a huge role in the progression of the disease. So there are psychological influences that can make the disorder better/worse; but the disorder is a physiological one.

      I see no reason to view tinnitus any differently.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      I don't really have a clue. I just think the way it works is so weird and it's even weird that science still is mostly clueless.

      Everytime I spike i also get a sense of "feedback" (I don't know if that's the right word, I googled it. A word that has to do with microphones and speakers and stuff), in my head. It's not dizziness but a strange sensation as if the sound is circulating in my head very fast. (hard to explain).

      Spikes, I guess, are either psychological or they're temporary damage to wherever the damage occurs. Or a combination of both.
       
    7. John Mahan

      John Mahan Member

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      We are all speculating. :) No science doesn't have a great handle on.

      If you consider, what possibly could be more complicated? I suppose genetic mutation and interaction could be as complex contributing to something like neurological disorders...or the rarest of neurological disease... nerves that basically die or never worked right to begin with. People tend to thing in binary terms for simplicity. Reality is a matrix of interaction of control factors we can't even fathom.

      But unraveling the hearing apparatus... how the brain even converts air percussion to a construct that doesn't even exist in nature, but only created by the mind... sound. To me, it is one of the most complex things about the human body and there are many including the sense of sight... how reality creates a panorama in the brain like a black board. Pretty remarkable stuff... and all organic. Of course it can go haywire and in fact, a miracle it ever works right in the first place and for many that lost the DNA lottery, it never did.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    8. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      There's at least one other possibility, I think: that the spike is neither psychological nor [always] physical damage.

      Let me explain:

      Neurons are like the wires in your home, literally: right down to the rubber insulation that protects them from dissipating energy, or touching other wires (in the brain, the insulation is made of myelin instead of rubber). In the home, when the rubber insulation is damaged, it increases energy leakage, and increases the likelihood of two wires touching. Same with the brain: often times, when neuronal transmission fails, it's because of damage to the myelin, which leads to current 'leakage', or to neuronal 'cross-talk'.

      Back to the home example: when the light switch is off, and the electrical current is still, there is no leakage or cross talk. And when the switch is turned on, leakage and cross-talk will occur. But we wouldn't say we're necessarily causing further *damage* to the switch each time we turn it on. Rather, we can simply predict that whenever the light switch is turned on, leakage and cross-talk will be the symptom.

      The same could be going on in our heads: spikes could simply be an indication that a degraded neuron is being used. Not damaged - just used. Of course, it's almost impossible to [currently] know if that's true or not, and no doubt some things do in fact cause more damage - so in this case I actually agree with @Bill Bauer that caution is likely the better play. But situations like yours, where a perfectly safe 70db noise has led to a spike - I wonder if it's just because something about that sound frequency activated your damaged circuits, got them all hot and bothered. If I decide to become a tinnitus researcher, this is something I'm very interested in figuring out - whether spikes actually mean we're hurting ourselves, or if it just means that we're already hurt.
       
      • Like Like x 2
      • Informative Informative x 1
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      Interesting, but you're confusing me with someone else. I'm not the one with the lawn mower. :)

      My latest spike is from 6 days ago when I went to a hockey game. Pre-game-music was around 90 dB, I think, and I was stupid to wear my weaker filters which only lowers 10-15 dB instead of the ones I really should've used. The exposure wasn't extremely long, though.
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    10. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Ooops! Sorry! I swear someone just complained about their 70 dB lawn mower!
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      Someone did, but it wasn't me. :) I did write in that same thread, though.
       
    12. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Temporary spikes can eventually become permanent spikes. In those cases, the answer to your question is the former...
       
    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      What I find interesting is also how we (I, at least) react and pretty much experience my spikes the exact same way as previous times. My experience of the sound and my thoughts of it all and so on. And that I despite all those previous occasions all leading up to re-habituations, end up anxious yet again.

      I experience my tinnitus louder and at a higher frequency, and that has been the case every single time. Is it really louder, is it temporarily louder or is it my mind triggering it?
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    14. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      I don't entirely disagree with you Bill. But there are many relevant questions, the answers of which could drastically improve the quality of life for tinnitus sufferers. For instance:

      How often do temp spikes turn into permanent ones?

      What is the likelihood that this will happen?

      Are these spikes that turn permanent from "normal" events (ie. 70 db lawn mowers) or supra-threshold noise exposure?

      And please Bill, stop with anecdotes unless they provide enough info to begin to answer some of these questions. Simply "I once knew a guy who..." is just not very helpful.
       
    15. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      I can't say about your experience in particular, but I'm 100% convinced that mine is *actually* louder and higher pitched during spikes. I've been trying to be very systematic re measuring them, analyzing them, etc., and I do *not* think it's all psychological.

      The distress I feel about it has a psychological component for sure. Like, right now, my tinnitus is actually pretty moderate, but it's kinda bugging the shit out of me, and I'm locked onto it a bit more than I sometimes am. But I'm also aware that it's not that loud. So there's a distinction there, between loudness and annoyance, or between loudness and how much attention I'm paying to it.

      In my case it's not just about loudness though, it's also about the type of noise that is presenting. I have multiple different sounds that come/go at different times. There are a few sounds that are permanent, always on, always there. Those aren't too bad, and I function very well when it's just them. But then there are a few sounds that appear when my system has been tweaked. When I'm "spiking". These sounds are higher pitched, and usually differently located in the ears/head. Are they louder than my background sounds? Or is it that the combined summative effect of all the noises makes the whole orchestra louder? That I'm still not sure about; and it may not matter.

      Re your experience being the same every time...why wouldn't it be? Something physiological is going on under the hood. Even though we don't understand it well, there's a mechanism, a switch, that is malfunctioning. There's good reason to predict that it will malfunction in the same way each time, no?
       
    16. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Avoiding a permanent spike is what will have a huge impact on the quality of life. Given the (for all intents and purposes) infinite cost of a permanent spike, it makes sense to avoid any activity that has a positive probability of causing a permanent spike. Those anecdotes establish that the probability is nonzero. Enough said.
       
    17. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Clearly you didn't ingest @Bartoli's excellent post. Pity.
       
    18. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I already addressed his post - see my response.
       
    19. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      That kind of sums mine up as well. It's one that's higher pitched, a little louder with some others in the background and with a strange sensation, sometimes inside the head. I'm somewhat hopeful it'll recede, the question is when.

      It feels identical with my spike from a year and a half ago, and oddly enough I kind of believed that increase to have been permanent. Clearly it must have receded, since it feels the same as then and not worse. THAT is a bit weird.
       
    20. Ringeee

      Ringeee Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not Sure
      I agree there is a major psychological factor we don't understand. Many people told me they've had it since childhood and it never bothered them and or it didn't bother them until they realized it wasn't normal.
       
    21. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      I didn't say you didn't address it, I said you didn't ingest it.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    22. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      The one I get in my head, that comes and goes when I'm tweaked, doesn't hold a single tone, but rather squiggles around a bit, truly like a bit of an electrical current. It's that squiggle that I find the hardest to deal with - very tough to ignore when it's literally moving around.

      But (to this point) I've been fortunate, and that squiggle only seems to last 1-3 days before subsiding back down. I'm in day two right now, and it's already backed off a good amount. Your troubles sound a bit more constant (though as you said, it disappeared last time and you didn't even notice!). :)

      I wish you well, and a speedy recovery. Good for you to realize that it's the same as last time though - if it went away once, it's exceedingly likely to go away again.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    23. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Yes, the distress has a major psychological component. But the sounds themselves, in my opinion, are primarily physiological. No doubt when you really get into the weeds with it, the psychology and physiology will interact. But we will NEVER get past where we are with treatment - masking and CBT - if we don't dispell this idea that it may be a psychological disorder.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    24. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      You say that because you haven't ingested the content of My messages.
       
    25. MattS
      Relaxed

      MattS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Power Tools
      Sigh.

      With a response that banal, I'm not leaning towards obtuse rather than clever.
       
    26. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I repeated your response back to you, as my way to react to the quality of your post. In this case, the quality of the output was determined by the quality of the input.
       
    27. Striveon

      Striveon Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      That's my question every time I am experiencing a spike. Right now I am struggling with a spike and I wonder if it's my mind triggering it, anxiety or if it ramped up louder?
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    28. Megatron

      Megatron Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise, Stress
      Hi @Sven
      My name is Troels (from Denmark) and I have had T for 14 years.
      I have read your posts and it is really interesting how many things We seem to have in common when it comes to the way you describe spikes, the sensations in the head etc.

      Would you be interessted in Maybe exchanging tips and experiences on the phone someday?

      Godt nytår
       
    29. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sven
      Tired

      Sven Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      Not on the phone, perhaps, but feel free to write a private message here on the site and I'll reply.

      Gott nytt år. :)
       
    30. Megatron

      Megatron Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise, Stress
      Hi @Sven

      no problem.

      I tried to pm you but are not allowed. Maybe you could write to me and I Will reply?
       
Loading...

Share This Page