Tinnitus and Possible Dysacusis — Cumulative Exposure to Noise

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by beefling, Mar 24, 2022.

    1. beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      First I just wanted to say how grateful I am that Tinnitus Talk exists, and how active/supportive it is. It truly is a boost to know that I'm not alone, and that people are actively investigating this horrific phenomena.

      I'll get right to brass tacks. I'm fairly confident I know the cause of my tinnitus/auditory issues, and that would be cumulative exposure to sound. Have fairly noisy tenants that live above me, so I would use ambience like brown noise/washing machines through my computer speakers to drown them out. It worked wondrously in that regard. But I resorted to this for hours on end for about... a year, maybe more? I also used a fairly loud kitchen fan at night for a few months before symptoms started occurring.

      Listened to music through earbuds as well when I went for walks/driving. Only about 30-40 minutes at a time, but I didn't manage the volume too well. Been doing for the better part of 12 years or so.

      Started experiencing a mid frequency ringing (or maybe it's more accurate to describe it as whistling) towards the end of last October in the presence of things like fans and running water (which also produced a sort of whooshing noise). At first I had classified this as tinnitus, or maybe reactive tinnitus, but I'm not sure it would be accurate to call it as such. I would only hear these noises amidst the sounds of fans, running water, etc. Once the noise dissipated, so did the whistling/whooshing. No lingering side effects.

      One day towards the end of October I had a bit of a... breakdown because of this, and against my better judgment, continued subjecting myself to that particularly loud kitchen fan since I had grown accustomed to using it to help me sleep at night. The next day I woke up with the classic high pitched ringing in my left ear only, and it has stuck ever since.

      The good news is that by early December, I had mostly habituated to my tinnitus, and the reactive tones really weren't that bad. I reduced my exposure to noise pollution a little, but I still listened to certain ambience through speakers, and music through earbuds (only when I walked), albeit at a significantly reduced volume. I thought "well, this isn't so bad. I may not ever fully recover from this, but I can take measures to prevent it from getting worse." Getting complacent was a mistake.

      Fast forward to early-mid February. It got worse. A broader array of sounds now trigger different kind of tones. Certain music (mostly traditional instruments like pianos) will produce a particularly unpleasant sharp whistle. I started hearing low pitched tones with fans. I started hearing weird distorted noises, kind of like wine glass humming. I'm hearing other tinnitus tones when I'm trying to sleep at night (mostly only at night, and they still aren't TOO bad).

      The reactive tones and whistles can still be managed by avoiding triggers, and compared to what some others here are experiencing, the whole package is probably quite mild.

      I guess what my question is: do the reactive tones sound like dysacusis? I'm certain it's not hyperacusis/recruitment, as I'm not experiencing any pain, and volume levels are still quite normal by my standards. Nothing is amplified.

      I've had my hearing tested and been to two different audiologists (with a third appointment lined up for some different tests), with pretty standard results, and am waiting to book an appointment with an ENT. Could be a while before I see one though.

      Didn't think this would end in a wall of text, but I guess I just needed to unload. Any insight is greatly appreciated!
       
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    2. DimLeb

      DimLeb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic Cochleopathy or Maybe Loud Music
      Your story sounds like mine a bit! It's great that your condition is relatively mild. I have experienced stuff like that myself. When my tinnitus started (March '21), it was a 0.3/10 only in left ear.

      After 3 months (June '21), it somehow got worse going to like 1/10 with 2-3 mid range tones in both ears, with added the reactive tone on fans, water running etc. Thankfully in about 3 weeks the reactive tone went away.

      Then, in January '22, I experienced an episode of diplacusis. Left ear heard some frequencies lower in pitch than the right, creating a disturbing dissonance. That thank goodness went away after a few hours, leaving only questions with no answers...

      Now I just have tinnitus which somehow got worse on its own, like 2/10. No hyperacusis, pain or anything.

      Judging from my case, what you describe may be something temporary. Do you feel the reactiveness shows any sign of going away? Dysacusis/diplacusis was probably the most disheartening symptom for me, even more than the tinnitus. I believe you need to get multiple ENT opinions, before you blame noise exposure so fast.

      Get yourself tested for balance issues as well. Even though I'm a musician with lots and lots of noise exposure over a decade, a neuro-otologist found I have some minor unsteadiness as well, pointing at something else other than noise exposure. Not that it's going to lead to some kind of treatment or else, but at least I feel a bit better about being around noise.

      I hope you get better soon!
       
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    3. ZFire
      Movie buff

      ZFire Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      Hi, welcome to the forums.
      Some distortions can sound similar to tinnitus tones/noise so its easy to mistake it for the reactive tinnitus that you’re referring to. I call it reactive tinnitus variation #2. In my view, for it to be consider reactive tinnitus var. #2, the tone/noise can still be heard even in silence. Hearing noises in your head/ears while in silence is what tinnitus essentially is after all.

      Since you say you can only hear these noises when surrounded by certain types of external sounds, it’s likely distortions. Distortions alter the way external sources are suppose to sound like, changing its perception with unusual and unnatural sound effects. The piano as you described is a good example of this. For me, the sound of wind was like the noise a rattlesnake makes with its tail. Basically, things don’t sound as they normally should be.

      I know some people here consider dysacusis and reactive tinnitus to be a subset of hyperacusis. The absence of pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you do not have hyperacusis. Are you sensitive to certain types of noise? Does silverware, dishes, cause you some discomfort? Does the unpleasant whistle distortion from the piano cause you any discomfort or uneasiness?
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      @DimLeb, I feel the same way with regard to how the tinnitus doesn't bug me *too* much, with the prevalent high pitched frequency only being about 3 or 4 out of 10, it's that damn reactive whistling/ringing that's got me in a pickle. Can't mask my tinnitus (or the obnoxious upstairs neighbours) with ambience out of fear of worsening my symptoms. Also makes playing video games/listening to certain music a nuisance.

      It's hard to say whether or not reactivity has subsided in any capacity since symptoms popped up in October. I want to say yes? At least at first, maybe, before the spike in February. Running water especially didn't seem to be as bad over time, but it didn't go away entirely. Could be more that my brain was just acclimating to the sound, rather than it getting better. Maybe a little bit of both.

      I will say that the wine glass humming definitely has subsided pretty substantially. It seems to come and go, but hasn't been all that present lately. It's just the sharp whistle I hear with music that has me so distracted. I hear some other minor sound distortions as well that are difficult to describe. Like if you're familiar with the Windows 10 'error' sound, I hear a bit of weird twang at the end of that sound effect. Not a huge deal, but worth noting. Likely related to the other distortions.

      I'll take your advice and inquire about balance testing, thank you! I have my ups and downs like everyone else, but I haven't given up yet. I feel optimistic that my reactivity will fade in time, just might take a while.

      Good luck to both of us!
       
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    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      I've considered this over the months, and I'm fairly certain it isn't what reactive tinnitus variation #2 is describing, because the reactive whistling/whooshing/tones are a separate noise altogether. My tinnitus sounds nothing like that, and I don't hear those reactive noises in silence either. So I think it's safe to call this distortion, like you say.
      If I were to say that I'm sensitive to any particular noise, it's only because I've become hyper aware of the reactive tone/whistle it creates, not because it's causing me any actual discomfort. Silverware/dishes clanking, people talking, or something like piano notes cause me no real distress. Volume levels are normal and I don't seem to be experiencing any uneasiness otherwise.

      I still haven't ruled out hyperacusis though. I do experience some minor jaw/ear irritation, so it could also be TMJ related. Need to get on top of booking an appointment with a dentist. Not insured though, so not looking forward to the price tag...

      Something else that's noteworthy is that I've suffered from GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) since 2017. Symptoms of chronic acid reflux. I've got it pretty much under control, but at night I sleep almost exclusively on my left side with my head propped up, which is also my 'bad' ear. Wonder if there's any correlation.

      It flared up again in December, and I had to go back on 60 mg of Dexilant, a PPI. Been weening off that a little, but it's my limited understanding that prolonged use of PPIs can affect the way we absorb Magnesium, and I know that Magnesium is hugely important to ear health. Wonder if I've got a bit of a deficiency. Seen talk of Magnesium Glycinate being the go-to for potentially treating tinnitus. Worth a shot and couldn't hurt to try.
       
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    6. ZFire
      Movie buff

      ZFire Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      Distortions is such a complicated issue since hearing quality and sound perception are also involved. But I think most people do get better over time. I think what’s more important is that you’ve had some progress and that’s honestly a good sign. There was a musician i found on YouTube recently who also had bouts with dysacusis after a microsuction event. Similar to you, he experienced strange distortions while playing piano, but overtime the distortions dissipated to the point where he didn’t notice it anymore. Time seems to be the best healer for this condition. I’m sure you’ll get back to normal at some point.
       
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    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      Yeah, one thing that has given me a sliver of hope is that there are a lot of anecdotes from people online that distortions have healed with time. And I very much appreciate you reinforcing that, @ZFire. If nothing else, it does help to keep my mindset elevated.

      I'll try to keep this thread updated, too, with any significant changes, while being a force for positivity for others in the meanwhile.
       
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    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      Bit of an update. I developed a new tone in my left ear about a week ago and it's been progressively getting louder. Especially at night. Last night, my usual masking methods (that don't trigger reactions) didn't help much.

      So lost as to how this popped up. I've been at home almost exclusively. Managing noise levels, keep stress and anxiety levels low. Haven't done or taken anything that would have obviously caused this. That's just tinnitus for you I guess. No rhyme or reason sometimes. Just didn't think it would worsen while I take precautions to prevent that very thing from happening.

      Like so many here, wish I knew what was the source/cause of this. Just patiently awaiting my next appointment and trying not to think about it. Praying it doesn't worsen any further, just because it feels like it.
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      Small update. Good news and bad news. Good news is my tinnitus (the constant tones) have subsided a bit. Wondering if the magnesium is helping? Might have habituated a little as well. Either way, I haven't been hearing them as frequently or as intensely in recent days. They aren't as bad in pure silence either.

      Bad news is I'm experiencing a new symptom. I'm hearing a lot more bass/subwoofer type sounds, like if you hear a car in the distance with loud music playing, but you really only hear that thumping bass noise. It's not too bad or especially intrusive. So far I'm mostly only experiencing it from digital audio - like from my computer speakers or a TV. It's occurring with certain beats of music, or even when people are speaking. The sound of typing also seems to trigger it a little.It's also more pronounced when I'm lying down. Subtle neck movements seem to trigger a small reaction as well, so I wonder if this is somatic. And again, I think this is predominantly occurring in my left ear, but it's hard to say.

      I have two appoints coming up on the 11th and the 12th, one for an audiogram, and one for a sensitivity test. Will see if this yields any answers. Wondering if hearing these more pronounced wub sounds is a result of increased high frequency hearing loss.

      One last thing. The last two times I've taken a shower, it left me with some pretty intense pain on the left side of my head/neck for pretty much the entire day. Never had this happen before. If it was a headache, it wasn't like any headache I've felt before. It was almost like a swelling kind of pain? Or pain you experience when you release a joint from a long period of applying pressure. Like a tightness/tense/burning sensation. Wondering if it's related.
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      My distortions have come back with a vengeance over the past couple of days... including the wine glass humming that I thought I had under control. No idea what could have caused it to resurface, haven't done anything that would have obviously caused this. No sudden exposure to any particularly loud sounds. Always seems to worsen in the middle of the night. My sleeping position? Acid reflux doing something??

      Broke down this morning. Has never been this bad. Really hoping this will pass, like it has before. Only time will tell I guess. I'm so exhausted. Mentally drained.
       
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    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      Immensely relieved to report that it did indeed pass. Took about 9-10 days from onset before noises started subsiding. Been hum free now for about a week. Only thing I can guess that caused this was sleeping in relatively close proximity to a refrigerator that would periodically buzz. No idea really. It's not that loud and only came on in intervals. Started sleeping somewhere more silent and I've been pretty good ever since. Feel like this'll help in the long run too. Also buckled down even more on my diet.

      Not out of the woods yet. Whistling from music/water/fans is ever present. But at least that little episode is over. In a much better place now compared to then.
       
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