Tinnitus and Hyperacusis After Heavy Headphone Use — What Are the Odds This Will Subside?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Bob1234, Aug 22, 2021.

    1. Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      I have worn my noise-cancelling Sony headphones this past year pretty much constantly. I am in my 40's, work from home (IT) since the beginning of COVID-19, lots of meetings etc. during the day. This past Wednesday I noticed a sharp pain followed by a high pitched ringing in both my ears after playing a video game that was particularly loud. Did some googling and saw others warning about Tinnitus and this particular game, fantastic...

      Now 4 days later, the ringing is still there and I have increased sensitivity to normal sounds (hyperacusis).

      I have read through a lot of this forum, and it is scaring the crap out of me that I might have to live with this for the rest of my life. I have a lot of high-pressure projects coming up that require focus.

      I am not using headphones any longer, I have ordered an external mic for conference calls. Scheduling an ENT appointment ASAP Monday. I feel like such an idiot for not taking proper care of my ears, this was easily preventable.

      What are the odds that this will subside?

      Are there any indicators as to what the progression will be for a particular case, or is there nothing to do but wait and see?

      Thank you!

      P.S. Tinnitus Talk is a fantastic forum.
       
    2. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      Still working my way through this forum, lots of information here. A lot of scary stories here... depression etc.

      Should I try to get prescribed some steroids (Prednisone) now somehow? Or is that only for unexplained tinnitus?

      My first ENT appointment is in 9 days. Will it be too late then?
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @Bob1234.

      Your tinnitus and hyperacusis will improve but it will take time and it's something that cannot be rushed. It is important that you don't use any type of headphones even at low volume and preferably never use them again. Please go to my started threads, and read the following posts that I am going to list below. If you have a printer my advice is to print them and refer to them often. This way you will absorb and retrain the information better rather than reading on a screen which will be soon forgotten. Some of the posts are a form of counselling, by referring to them this will help to reinforce positive thinking.

      Try not to worry things will improve.
      • New to Tinnitus, What to Do?
      • The Habituation Process
      • Hyperacusis, as I See It
      • Tinnitus and the Negative Mindset
      • Acquiring a Positive Mindset
      • Tinnitus, a Personal View
      • From Darkness into Light
      • How to Habituate to Tinnitus
      • Tinnitus, and Negative Counselling
      • Tinnitus, the Way Some See It
      • The Complexities of Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
      All the best,
      Michael
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      I am done with headphones, I will be babying these ears as much as I can from now on. I know you guys are probably tired of getting the same questions again and again, but it's hard to not freak out!

      Thank you so much Michael, a lot of great information there!
       
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    5. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      What game?

      A single go of Prednisone tends to help people, just taper super slowly off it and only do it once.
       
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      Updating this because I find it helpful to read the progression of others.

      I went to the urgent care, and one of my ears had a decent amount of wax buildup. They tried to clear it, but wasn't able to.

      I did it myself a day later using one of these:
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0967LV2Q2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Wife thought I was crazy to do it myself, she actually hid it from me for a while, but I read that the longer you leave it in there pressing on the eardrum, the more likely there will be permanent damage. And it felt a lot more gentle than what the doc was doing, the camera works really well. My tinnitus pitch lowered a bit after that - I think.

      I was prescribed Prednisone and an antibiotic and I got them a day later. After taking them my tinnitus now feels the best it's been, it's more of a low hiss. But maybe that is just a temporary effect of the Prednisone? We'll see, I have an appointment with an actual ENT in a week.

      Scary sh... this. If by some miracle it ends up disappearing I will be so so careful from now on.
       
    8. Tau
      Probing

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      Holy crap, I was playing Apex with my new headphones on high volume and got unilateral tinnitus in my right ear (gunshot sounds?). It was more gradual, though - I played for a month before noticing it.

      I then proceeded to destroy my ears with a stupid test, but I think Apex may have been the reason why I got that unilateral tinnitus in the first place.

      It's great that your tinnitus is diminishing - protect your ears! It's very likely it will disappear. I didn't protect mine (did a high frequency hearing test and upped the volume) and now I have hearing loss.
       
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    9. Damocles
      No Mood

      Damocles Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otitis media
      Damn it's a great game though!

      Who was your main?
       
    10. Tau
      Probing

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      Lifeline and Octane. I still play a bit. Was only Diamond I, though.

      Back in my teenage years I participated in actual FPS game tournaments, won prizes, etc. Did similar things in university, too. Sad to think I might never be able to do that again.
       
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    11. Vincent R
      Caffeine

      Vincent R Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      Don't let the ENT do an acoustic reflex test. It's a test where a device administrates beeps into your ear. The ENT will tell you it's safe, but it's not. Several Tinnitus Talk members have had their tinnitus permanently worsened by it. Refuse to participate in the test no matter what.
       
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    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      Thanks for the warning about the test guys! I would not have thought to ask the ENT not to run any tests, very much appreciated!!!

      Yep Apex was fun, but not worth it if this is the price I have to pay :)

      Unfortunately I think it's the Prednisone that is toning down the tinnitus, when I wake up it's worse. So I am not so sure it'll just go away.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      Just to follow up.

      Met with an ENT, he had an audiologist do a test and I have some hearing loss starting around 4000 Hz, which is consistent with being exposed to loud noises apparently. Not terrible hearing loss, but the hearing level (? not sure what was on the Y axis) just dipped below this this line he had on his chart right around 4000 Hz. I kind of wish I'd gotten a copy of it.

      He told me that that the tinnitus is the brain responding to not getting any input around that frequency any longer. There's nothing to do about it really, exercise helps, the less I think about it the better, nothing can be done. So kind of what I was expecting/worried would happen. This is probably not going away...
       
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    14. Tau
      Probing

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      Oh wow, you got a noticeable dip in your audiogram from playing Apex? That is very unfortunate.

      That line is likely something like 30 dB for it to be called hearing loss. The biggest dip I have is 10 dB at 8 kHz now, however, I have multiple tinnitus sounds and distortions. I used to have a dip at 6 kHz, but it's fine now, unsure why I had a temporary shift like that, but maybe yours is also temporary.
       
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    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      Man I hope so! It could be a that Apex just pushed me over the edge. I've worked in noisy environments in the past, I think longevity of noise exposure is a factor also.

      Do you go back to an ENT to get it tested all the time, or can you do it online yourself somewhere?

      My tinnitus is a steady tone somewhere around 6000 Hz I think.

      I need to start running, get into meditation etc. to get my mental state under control. If this continues I may consider a hearing aid with tinnitus masker, it's expensive but since its a steady tone maybe it'll help.
       
    16. Tau
      Probing

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      You can do it online, but I do go back to my otologist. Universal healthcare, so why not :p

      If you do it online, you can only see relative change because it's hard to calibrate properly.
       
    17. kingsfan
      Haunting

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Coolifornia
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      Yea you're going to be alright with this, even if it doesn't go away. It's a tough pillow to swallow at first and it will be very depressing, but you'll make it through it.

      Just don't use headphones anymore and get some nice foam earplugs rated at 32 NRR for loud stuff like power tools, air compressors, mowers, etc. And don't ride in cars with the windows down.

      A lot of us have gone as far as avoiding bars, clubs, movie theaters and sporting events. Not seeing LA Kings games in-person is a real tough one for me.

      Also don't get too involved with figuring out the exact cause, I made mine much worse by getting extra tests (I'm one of the victims of the Acoustic Reflex Test).

      A hearing aid may help you if you have a large dip in your hearing.
       
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    18. TheDanishGirl
      Sad

      TheDanishGirl Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2017 (H since 06/2017)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term noise exposure (headphones), maybe some stress.
      Honestly? Not good I think :( It could improve, but personally I wouldn't bet on it. My tinnitus and hyperacusis is also from heavy headphone use, and it never got the least bit better.
       
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    19. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure about the first. Too many beers? Music during sleep.
      It’s really interesting to read that you got yours in conjunction with playing Apex.

      My latest, (most intrusive) tinnitus happened on Friday night the week when I from Sunday to Monday played Apex Legends for maybe three hours. I got to borrow a gaming laptop with 144 Hz display – never used anything above 60 Hz before – and had to return it after that weekend, so stayed up late that Sunday.

      Didn't rally have any loud volume (over ear headphones) while playing the game, though. But I then went to bed listening to music all night (sweeping synth and piano) which I had done for almost all nights for four months, masking my two tinnitus sounds (a tone in right ear and a "hum in the head"). This I did via my phone in speaker mode a bit away from my head in bed, but one of the nights that week I think I did use in-ear headphones on low volume because my hum was bothering me so much. Anyway, I did notice on Tuesday that week after the Apex session that my ears felt full as if having been to a loud concert without proper hearing protection. Still, I kept listening to music at night (idiot) to mask my hum and tone thinking it was just my tinnitus doing things with my ears. And then, Friday that week I wake up after two hours (heard a ”warped chirp” for a couple of second, then ”sssssssssss”) to a new high-pitched tinnitus in my left ear, some hearing damages on high frequencies and hyperacusis.

      I have a strong feeling it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t play Apex so long that night or if I had just abstained from music listening at night for a few days so my ear fullness had gone down. But now it’s too late... :(

      It's more than four months ago now, and I do think the tinnitus sound is a little bit softer compared to onset and hyperacusis is a little bit better, but it sure is bothersome still.

      Hope things will get better for both of you!
       
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    20. Tau
      Probing

      Tau Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2019-Concert, 2021-headphones/acoustic trauma at 110dB,16kHz
      I think the gunshots are comparatively loud and shrill in Apex, hence why this might happen. I also had the volume up to hear footsteps.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    21. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure about the first. Too many beers? Music during sleep.
      I take it you don't think it's a good idea to try this then – sleeping with headphones and a crazy sound (albeit at low volume) for three weeks. :confused: :)

      I Invented a Sound That Knocked Out My Tinnitus

      He does say ”Tinnitus Mix is not recommended for anyone suffering from hyperacusis.”, though.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    22. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I don't think it's a good idea for anyone that has noise induced tinnitus, to listen to audio through any type of headphones even at low volume. Some people with noise induced tinnitus use headphones without any problems. However, I believe they are taking a risk with their health.
       
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    23. David S

      David S Member Benefactor Ambassador

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      @Michael Leigh, just so that I understand. I am not using headphones and would never do but I am planing to use in-ear white noise generators (WNGs). What are the difference? I mean basically they are just sounds from different sources or am I missing something here?
       
    24. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Bob1234

      Bob1234 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headphones
      I'm not going to try the Tinnitus Mix, I got sucked into reading the thread with a few beverages in me, and the thought of some magical sound that could fix my tinnitus started to sound appealing :) But yeah that whole thing is kind of nutty.

      @star-affinity, there's something about that stupid game, there are some really loud high pitched noises - when you're downed for example - that are not healthy. I'd been playing for months, but the tinnitus started one evening after I felt a sharp pain in my ears. I hope it gets better for you!

      @kingsfan, good advice. I am looking into getting some custom molded hearing protection. I occasionally have to go to loud places for work.

      @Michael Leigh, I am taking your advice and not using headphones. My ENT said they it would be fine, but there's no reason to take chances.
       
    25. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @David S.

      Some people believe white noise through earbuds or headphones is the same as white noise generators or hearing aids but it isn't. The sound through white noise generators and hearing aids, is delivered through a small plastic tube that wraps over the back of the ear and enters the entrance to the ear canal. At the end of the tube there is a tiny aperture/hole where sound emits.

      By comparison, headphones and earbuds use a large diaphragm that moves back and forth and generates sound waves within the ear canal. It is just over one inch (26mm) in length. The sound can only go in one direction, towards the eardrum.

      When you look at the very tiny hole of white noise generator and hearing aid where sound emits, then one begins to understand the reason, a lot of people with noise induced tinnitus are affected by headphone use. I say again, not all people with this type of tinnitus are affected by headphones but many are.

      White noise played through white noise generators sounds smooth and regulated. White noise through headphones and earbuds can sound crude and harsh.

      All the best,
      Michael
       
    26. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Your ENT doctor means well but is not aware of the risks a person with noise induced tinnitus is taking if they use any type of headphones even at low volume. Your doctor may be an excellent physician that knows all about the anatomy of the ear. ENT doctors treat underlying medical problems that cause tinnitus but they do not treat tinnitus, as this is not their area of expertise.

      Michael
       
    27. David S

      David S Member Benefactor Ambassador

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Thanks Michael, now I perfectly understand. The energy of the noise that can be generated must be in proportion to the diameter of the speaker generating it.
       
    28. kingsfan
      Haunting

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Coolifornia
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      The Tinnitus Mix thread is so entertaining though!

      What brand of custom molds are you interested in? I have Westone and I don't recommend them. I want to try ACS and Sensaphonics.

      Don't get me wrong, the Westone filters are amazing, but the fit and material of the plugs are not great in my experience. There are audio engineers who swear by them though, so YMMV.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    29. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Unfortunately David I don't quite follow you.

      When I began corresponding and counselling people with noise induced tinnitus, I noticed there were certain things a lot of them had in common, after they habituated and the tinnitus returned or increased from a low level to one of more intense. This could be after two, six, twelve months or longer.

      Through questioning I learned the most common cause was returning to using headphones, earbuds or headsets. This was closely followed by listening to loud music at nightclubs or concerts even when using earplugs. Many believed they were safe using earplugs but I now know this is not necessarily the case.

      Take care,
      Michael
       
    30. kingsfan
      Haunting

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Coolifornia
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      FYI, there are two different types of earphone drivers: balanced armature drivers and dynamic drivers.

      Dynamic drivers are most commonly found in consumer-based earphones and headphones (Skullcandy, Sony, Beats, AirPods, etc). They are basically just like a standard speaker driver, except much smaller. They provide a very warm and rich sound. Each earphone or headphone will have a single one of these for each ear.

      Balanced armature drivers are usually found in professional earphones, usually called "in-ear monitors" (Ultimate Ears, JH Audio, Westone, 1964, etc) and hearing aids. Balanced armature drives are very small. So small that many in-ear monitors have up 12 of these in each earphone, each dedicated to a specific frequency range using crossovers. These create a much more accurate audio recreation, but require much more amplification. This is why many in-ear monitors require an additional power amplifier when paired with a computer or smartphone.

      So then, really the only difference between an in-ear monitor and a hearing aid would probably be the range of frequencies reproduced. A hearing aid produces somewhere around 1000 to 10,000 Hz where a professional in-ear monitor would reproduce the entire audio spectrum.

      In-ears are available as custom molds or with standard Comply foam tips.

      There is one in-ear monitor, that I know of, that uses dynamic drivers, and that is the entry-level Shure SE215 which is celebrated for its warm sound, deep bass and very modest price.

      Sidenote: Headphones have a few other types of drivers, but I kept this strictly related to earphones and hearing aids. Also headphones do not have balanced armature drivers, only earphones.
       
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