Tinnitus and Hyperacusis After Being Exposed to Gunfire at an Indoor Gun Range

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Leif, May 26, 2021.

    1. Leif

      Leif Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Hi Everyone,

      I am 2.5 months into suffering from tinnitus and some mild/moderate hyperacusis in my right ear. It showed up shortly after being exposed to gunfire at an indoor gun range (even though I was wearing hearing protection). I am 35, otherwise in good health and have never had problems with my hearing. Like many people, I went to see an audiologist and my audiogram shows no hearing loss (up to 8 kHz) and no issues recognizing speech. I primarily experience tinnitus as a high pitched hiss or static in my head. Sometimes there is also a lower toned ring in my right ear. It is very challenging to mask the high pitched static and the only place it completely disappears is when I am in the shower (I have been taking a LOT of showers).

      Over the past couple weeks my mental health degraded quickly to the point where my doctor and I agreed that I should try an SSRI (Zoloft). Seeing all of the negative posts about SSRI's on this forum made that decision extremely stressful but it felt like the best option to pull out of my emotional nosedive. I have also tried a couple different sleep aids but nothing seems to help much (Trazadone, Ativan, Melatonin). At best I manage 4-5 hours, most nights are worse. What makes sleeping so difficult are the continuous panic attacks right at the point of going to sleep. Nothing I do try seems to calm the mind/body.

      Despite my best attempts to remain positive I am hitting rock bottom. None of the therapy, CBT or meditation I have tried seems to make a positive impact. I feel stuck in a negative feedback loop of despair and have for the first time in my life begun having suicidal thoughts. Tinnitus Talk Success Stories I read of habituation or recovery seem impossibly out of reach. My family is very supportive but it is difficult for them to understand what I am going through.

      Since I am still in the acute phase I realize that a lot can still change with this condition, but I am hoping other members of the forum can offer some support or advice on how to navigate this stage of tinnitus.

      Specifically, any suggestions on the following:
      • Tips on overcoming the lack of sleep and paralyzing anxiety attacks?
      • How did you turn the corner mentally and get control over your reaction to tinnitus? What gave you hope in your darkest times?
      • Suggestions on how to manage/improve the hyperacusis in my right ear? Is exposing it to normal/safe sound (frequency/loudness) good exposure therapy despite some discomfort? Doing so seems to exacerbate the tinnitus (real or imagined).
      • At only 2.5 months in, should I be hopeful that the tinnitus/hyperacusis will eventually fade?
      • At what volume should I begin protecting my ears? I read one post saying nothing over 70db for six months following acoustic trauma.
      • Did anyone find it helpful or harmful to take a leave of absence from work to aid their recovery?
      I also want to thank everyone for all their contributions on this forum. It is an incredible resource and a great source of inspiration and hope.

      Wishing you all a calm and quiet day,

      Leif
       
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    2. Padraigh Griffin

      Padraigh Griffin Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Stress
      Hi Leif, I have no advice except that I now have suicidal tinnitus. I had it a year ago and thought Iā€™d never make Christmas but I did. I just changed my perception of it and carried on. Unfortunately after all my hard work it spiked massively and I am now in a bad place again. I know the only answer is to change my relationship with it again but this time it is so much more difficult to find the fight or spirit.

      I truly hope you will relief. I found mindfulness videos from The Mindful Movement on YouTube helped some.

      Debbie Featherstone in the UK is a good CBT therapist and has an excellent online CBT course. Might be worth a go.

      Sending you warmth. Best wishes.
       
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    3. Lukee

      Lukee Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador

      Location:
      Toronto, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wim Hof Breathing Exercises
      Hi Leif,

      I went through almost the exact same pattern although my tinnitus and hyperacusis were caused by Wim Hof breathing exercises. I have the same high pitch static and mild hyperacusis. I can say that the hyperacusis will most likely get better as it does for most. Protect your ears but don't overdo it.

      I was prescribed Zoloft but never took it. I can say that the first few weeks were suicidal and I was getting no sleep. The odd time I could fall asleep I would wake up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, full blown anxiety. I'm not quite sure why this happens but I believe it has to do with fight or flight response. Things will calm down and you will likely habituate to your tinnitus.

      The very best advice I can give you is to relax. Meditate, if you can and try to get your body out of flight mode by activating your parasympathetic nervous system by increasing your vagal tone. This is accomplished a few ways. Please see the attachment on how to accomplish it. You will feel better once you practice these things for a few days. Eventually you'll get back to normal sleep and hopefully the hyperacusis will go away. Until then, no need to worry for the future, just get better one day at a time.
       

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    4. Danny B
      Dreaming

      Danny B Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear syringing
      Hi Leif! I really feel for you, I know that initial onset period is extremely rough. I remember taking a lot of showers too. I can't speak for the hyperacusis, as I've never had to deal with that, but I've been there when it comes to the high-pitched tinnitus that seems unmaskable.

      In your case, I think you definitely still have a good window left for hoping for a recovery. My initial onset of tinnitus was significantly worse than what I was hearing 6 months later, although I can't pinpoint exactly when it got better. At some point it slipped out of my awareness enough that I was no longer measuring it in situations where I felt uncomfortable, and at one point I remember laying my head on the pillow and thinking "y'know, this is really a lot quieter than it used to be." The success stories do have some remarkable cases of recovery even after the time frame where you would expect someone to be stuck with their level of tinnitus permanently, so even after 2 years I still keep an optimistic attitude.

      What helped me most to deal with the anxiety and move forward was to keep myself occupied. I tried to pick up new hobbies, stay working, and make extra social time. If I'm at home and doing something, I'll throw a podcast on so my brain will be paying more attention to dialogue than ambient noise. This is, obviously, extremely difficult to do given the stress that tinnitus puts on you. But when my brain was completely occupied with something that had its full attention, I would slip into these states where tinnitus would not be on my mind for a few precious hours. When you have one of these moments, take a second to stop and savor what it means: You just proved to yourself that it is possible for you to habituate. You can live in that wonderful world where all you cared about was the activity in front of you. After that, it's just a matter of expanding those precious hours into days.

      My best advice is to trust time and keep the faith. Those first few months were so nightmarish I still get nervous just thinking about them, but I got to a place where I can say my quality of life is back to normal and I'm looking forward to getting out post-pandemic and savoring life again. I don't want to speak for anyone else, I truly feel for everyone on this board, but I believe you'll be looking back on this period of your life one day and breathing a sigh of relief that things are better.
       
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    5. Ehren M
      Nerdy

      Ehren M Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/24/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma
      Hi Leif,

      I feel for ya, especially as you were wearing hearing protection.

      I wanted to share the following things that have helped me as I navigate similar symptoms as you:

      - Awareness that there is a good chance that we will experience spontaneous remission of our symptoms within 6 months to 2 years following their initiation
      - The progress being made toward drugs to treat these symptoms
      - Recalling the best experiences of my life and the hardest times in my life and recalling that the ups and downs make life rich and worth living
      - Connecting more deeply and earnestly with family members who have chronic issues...I can now understand their realities better than I could before
      - I take 1800-2400 mg of NAC any time I experience something I perceive as a loud sound. Perhaps it helps, or perhaps the placebo effect just soothes my brain a bit. Both are great.
      - I began adding big things to my bucket list and planning when to do those things, because life is short and should be enjoyed while it can be enjoyed.
      - Make it a habit to tell yourself: "I don't actually care about these boring tinnitus symptoms. This is just how life is right now."

      Hang in there and know it gets better. It's not always easy for me, but I'm 4 months in and it's definitely easier now than it was 2 months ago.

      Cheers.
       
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