Tinnitus 2 Months & Getting Worse; Looking for Advice/Strategies

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Kiwi1050, Mar 30, 2019.

    1. Kiwi1050

      Kiwi1050 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably Sinusitis
      Hello all,
      I'm new to the forums here and hoping for help. Sorry this post is long but I wanted to include detail in case any particular thing is important.
      Any advice you could give would be very much appreciated!

      Here is a quick summary:
      - Started due to sinusitis (fluid in ears)
      - No hearing loss
      - ENT says that anxiety is strongly exacerbating the issue
      - Almost disappears after sleeping, gets louder throughout the day
      - Anxiety also gets worse throughout the day
      - Loudness at night is getting gradually worse (but very subjective)
      - Also experiencing hyperacusis at a similar frequency to the ringing
      - Medications: 2x 0.5 Ativan per day, 100 mg Zoloft, 100 mg Trazadone
      - Extremely high levels of anxiety (except after taking benzo, of course)

      Here is the full story:
      I developed a fluid build-up in my ears following some sort of cold/flu I had mid-January. First the fluid was in my left ear, then a few days later it developed in my right ear too, and gave me an earache. I was also taking sudafed and Flonase every day at this point. After the fluid in my right ear didn't clear up after a ~week, my family practice doctor prescribed antibiotics, which did clear up the fluid. I think I had some ringing in my ear when the fluid was in there but it's hard to remember. However, some ringing was definitely in my ear after the fluid went away- relatively quiet, and I hoped it would go away after a few days.

      When it didn't go away, I started looking online about how this could last a long time or be permanent and I started to panic. I went back to my doctor the next day. He discussed how tinnitus was correlated with anxiety and how I should look into meditation, exercise, etc. to relax. He suggested stopping the sudafed since that can sometimes make the ringing worse. He also prescribed the corticosteroid prednisone (in case there was residual ear swelling), and recommended taking them in a few days if the ringing didn't get better. Meanwhile, I started to have trouble sleeping because of the anxiety and the ringing.

      After a few days, the ringing was only slightly better so I decided to take the steroid course (5 days). At first the ringing did get quieter and almost went away. But then on the last day of the corticosteroids, the ringing got worse again and I began to get really stressed. I was hoping the anxiety was just from the steroids and that it would go away after a few days. I also went to Audiology and got my hearing tested: I had no hearing loss, no signs of infection, no earwax buildup, no signs of any blockages in the ears. My anxiety about the ringing didn't get any better over the next week, however, and the ringing didn't get any better. I was taking some muscle relaxer and Melatonin to help me sleep but was only sleeping 2-4 hours a night.

      I went to an ENT specialist and he said given that I don't have any hearing loss, the issue was likely that my brain had just turned up the volume in a certain frequency range when I had the fluid in my ears. He said that the ringing would likely eventually die down and go away, but that because of all my anxiety and poor sleep my brain wasn't able to heal yet. He recommended meditation, biofeedback, yoga, etc.

      About a month ago I went to my family practice doctor and talked about my issues. I was depressed, having trouble sleeping, had lost my appetite, and feeling even more anxious. He prescribed Zoloft, which I have slowly been ramping up over the past month- I'm now on 100 mg/day for about the past 5 days. I tried Ambien for a few nights, which didn't work that well. At this point I had two nights in a row of near total panic where I didn't sleep at all. My doctor suggested Trazadone instead and have been using that ever since; it worked better and allowed me to sleep probably at least 4, sometimes as much as 6 hours/night.

      That Friday (now early March) I went to a therapist and discussed my issues. She immediately said that it was clear that I was in crisis and I needed some sort of benzodiazepine to help me get through the next month or so until the Zoloft started kicking in. We went to a clinic that evening (not my normal doctor) and he prescribed Xanax. I started taking half a Xanax (0.25 mg) roughly 2-3 times/day over the next several weeks when I started to get particularly panicky. The ringing stayed about the same through this period, but I still wasn't sleeping that well, even with the Trazadone, and my anxiety wasn't really getting any better.

      Eventually when my Xanax started to run out I went to my normal family practice doctor and he was reluctant to let me continue on the benzos. He also suggested I could try Buspar or a different SSRI, but I had only been on 50 mg of Zoloft for about a week at this point so it seemed premature to try different anti-anxiety medication (I was pretty upset that he was trying to make me try something different at this point!). Eventually we reached a compromise and he prescribed Lorazepam (Ativan) instead. I took one 0.5 mg dose of the Ativan, and I felt great for about 4-5 hours and the ringing got much quieter. But then the ringing came back, louder than it had ever been (or so I perceived?). I told the doctor this and he said he doubted the issue was the Ativan but he re-prescribed the Xanax instead.

      After a few days when the ringing wasn't getting any better after switching back to the Xanax, I got over my fear of the Ativan and started taking that instead (0.5 mg, up to twice daily as needed). Taking 0.5 mg of the Ativan has been very helpful at both tamping down my anxiety and making the ringing less loud. Maybe it's just my perception of it that was less loud, but it really does seem to be quieter when I take the Ativan. I also started taking the Ativan about an hour before bed, followed by a Trazadone at bedtime, and have been sleeping better (about 7 hours/night) consistently, although I do typically wake up once or twice to relieve myself.

      In the last week or so I have gotten into a sort of routine where I take an Ativan about an hour before bed, and then take another one around noon or so to help me get through the day. But obviously I realize that the benzos are not a long-term solution. In addition, in the last week or so, the level of ringing has really synced with the time of day. I wake up in the morning and barely notice it, but by the time evening rolls around it is loud enough to really bother me. Every night it also seems to be getting a little bit louder than it was the night before. In the last couple weeks, I have also started to really notice some level of hyperacusis- high-pitched sounds close to the frequency of the ringing in my ears are extra noticeable and bothersome.

      We went back to the ENT doctor to discuss this, and again he said that the ringing has just been getting worse because my anxiety has been getting worse and because I have been focusing on the ringing. He is certainly right that I have still been extremely anxious, and my issues are basically on my mind all day. He said that since I didn't have any hearing loss he didn't recommend a hearing aid as a solution.

      At the moment (2 months with some level of tinnitus), I am still taking it one day at a time. I am seeing a therapist once a week, reducing my work hours to limit stress there, and hoping that soon the Zoloft will kick in and reduce my anxiety and my obsession on the ringing, and with that the ringing will get quieter. But I am very worried how the ringing seems to be getting worse day by day, and that I am still relying on the benzos after about a month. Every morning I wake up and within like 15 minutes I start to feel panicky. I feel the urgent need to do something more, something else.

      Any advice you could give would be very appreciated!
      • Hug Hug x 3
    2. billie48

      billie48 Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      not sure
      Welcome to the forum @Kiwi1050 and calm down. What you described above most of the members have had gone through, the panicky, sleepless, depressed, stressed out, monitoring tinnitus non-stop, taking benzos and/or SSRI anti-depressant., worrying about the future and more panicky., etc., etc. Believe me, your sufferings, though very hard for you, are actually very common among new tinnitus sufferers. I have had very similar reactions and experiences, as I have ultra high pitched loud T, and then hyperacusis, and went through all the sleeplessness, panic, anxiety through the roof, taking benzos & AD (Ativan sublingual 0.5mg and most of the time I needed 2 pills, SSRI Prozac, sleeping pills etc). You did better than me, as you took 15 minutes to panic upon waking with T, I had panic attacks the moment I woke up with T already blasting through the roof and I instantly had to pop the medicines in to calm myself. I have had decades of anxiety and panic disorder plus PTSD prior to my T & H. So I simply could not even wait 15 minutes, lol. Poor me.

      I went through hellish living for about 9 months and eventually things improved over time. When I was in a mess initially, I never thought I could recover and have good life again. But never say never. Today I do just that, living a normal, productive, happy and absolutely enjoyable life, travelling and cruising often. It took me some time, probably more time than normal.

      But here I am, free from the tyranny of T & H. It still rings, but somehow and miraculously, me and my brain don't give a dime to T high or low. Considering I had to reach for my medicines right away upon waking with loud T, and now I don't give a dime about T, it is just something I never thought a person like me with prior weakened nerve condition from anxiety & panic disorder and PTSD, that I could actually recover and be well again. If someone had told me in my darkest time that this is possible, I would probably call him/her a nutty person. Lol.

      Anyway, if you are interested to read my success story where I share some helpful strategies, please spend your time to read it thoroughly and see if it can help you, especially in lowering your anxiety and giving you hope. Remember, besides me, there are 100s of success stories in the Knowledge Base section. Many of them echo similar journey. Try read them as much as you can to help you calm down and hopefully you can learn to apply some helpful and proven strategies of success.

      So don't panic and don't despair. Good days will return. Believe it. Take good care. God bless your recovery.

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