Tinnitus Following Use of Antibiotics and How It Has Evolved

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by _Chris, Mar 3, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      Hello everyone,

      I've had tinnitus for about two and a half months. After an initial period of panic, I had reached a point that was fairly stable. Then i got sick and, presently, my tinnitus seems to be going through some kind of flux, or at least I am, and this has been a challenging time. I figured that this was as good a time as any to write this introduction and maybe some of you have had the same experiences.

      Some background before I begin. I'm 35 years old. I'm married and have one child. I work as a researcher and I tend to be detail oriented, which as been good where work is concerned but has been less good where tinnitus is concerned. Several years ago I took a course of antidepressants to treat anxiety that was related to some external things. This resolved and I had not taken any of these for nearly 2 years prior to the onset of tinnitus. I never had hearing problems before. I probably went to less than a dozen loud concerts in my life, mostly in my 20s, and I never had any ringing after these. Only once did I have a bit of muffled hearing, which went away in one day. The worst thing I probably did recently was mowing the lawn last summer with headphones on and the volume pretty high. But these of course were things that lasted maybe an hour or two at the longest, and were not done frequently enough to cause problems. I've always slept with a fan in my room, and disliked extreme quiet. So I can't rule out that I didn't have a little bit of tinnitus my whole life that I more or less ignored. However, I can't go back in time and find out.

      There is one funny thing I'll say about my ears. I have two sounds I have always been able to make with them by flexing certain muscles in my head. With one, i can make them make an extremely low, rumbling sound. With the other, I can make a "clicking" sound. I think this latter one is caused by my Eustachian tubes opening. (A lot of people report this sound when they swallow). The latter maneuver is handy when adjusting for air pressure when flying. But I don't think these have anything to do with my tinnitus.

      My tinnitus started in mid December when I was taking a 10-day course of Bactrim for an infection I had gotten in my leg. The Bactrim gave me horrible insomnia that week. At the same time, I was under pressure to meet a deadline, so I suppose it's entirely possible that stress was the leading factor or a contributing one. However, I'd dealt with that kind of stress before without ever experiencing tinnitus. On the night of the 9th day of the Bactrim, I woke up and the sound of the fan in my room seemed like it had the sound of metal grating against metal in it. I went to the other room and realized that my ears were ringing. I eventually got to sleep using a white noise generator on my phone, and I skipped the last day of the Bactrim and saw my doctor. He said that the ringing was probably a side effect of the Bactrim and would likely go away after I quit taking the drug. (Bactrim, it turns out, is not one of THOSE notorious ototoxic antibiotics, but it still has tinnitus as a potential side effect.)

      One thing I noticed right away is that if I strained my jaw open in a certain way, it would make a tinnitus-like sound in my ears. This has been my way of trying to "objectively" measure its loudness throughout this time period: how loud it seems relative to the "jaw" sound.

      About a week passed, and the ringing did come down from its level on the first day, but didn't reduce further. For a few days there at the beginning, I remember that it seemed to fluctuate with my heartbeat when I was laying down (this aspect of it eventually went away). The tinnitus was (and still is) a high pitched ringing. It was symmetrical then. I started feeling considerable anxiety about it, and my doctor gave me a prescription for Klonopin. I held off on using them at first but the fear was getting pretty bad. I began thinking that I was going to lose everything and I remember crying in total despair, asking the universe to please not take away my life and family, etc.; I cut the Klonopin into quarters and took one per day for about a week. This seemed to help put the brakes on the runaway anxiety, for the moment.

      I knew I'd initially have to figure out how to cope on my own. I had an ENT appointment around the same time, and they found nothing wrong with my ears or my hearing. My audiogram was normal -- I had one ear with slightly lower response, but both were in the normal hearing range. The ENT doctor suggested I might try using lipoflavonoid, though he said they only helped a minority of patients. (I didn't bother with them because it just seemed to me that it was really unlikely they would help). Basically he said I would probably have to just "wait it out." He said he himself had some ringing as a result of hearing loss. Having my hearing checked improved my mood a great deal. I was truly worried that the Bactrim had somehow butchered my hearing--and clearly it didn't. Though it might have set off my tinnitus somehow.

      I had travel coming up soon, and I knew I wanted to get off the Klonopin so I could drink (I was going to a yearly conference with many colleagues followed up with some personal travel). I successfully did this, and though I was nervous about flying and being away from home, I proceeded.

      My first trip with tinnitus went OK. I had a normal time at the conference as I'd done for the past decade. Flying had no effect on it at all. Afterward, I spent a few days with a friend in New York. I did so much walking on that trip and was so busy during that time that the tinnitus really receded into the background. By the time I got home, it had become very quiet -- so much so that I was ready to declare my episode with tinnitus "over." It was not completely gone but it was very faint and seemed to be continuing to fade out. I didn't need any additional masking to sleep. I had even considered telling my story on one of these sites to be a potential comfort to someone whose ears had just started ringing. Because my initial experience a few weeks ago was to be confronted with horror stories.

      However, after about a week, it came back. I suppose I don't know for sure whether it really went away, or if my perception of it faded or what. But there it was again. It was irritating to me but I was not as bothered as I was in the first few weeks. I had more business travel, and this time I was stuck in 10-hour meeting days in a large room with a horrible sound system with a feedback problem with the microphones. I don't know that this directly affected my tinnitus but I was definitely more aware of it when i got home.

      This was around the start of February; almost immediately after I got home, I got the worst cold that I've had in many years. I developed bronchitis and had to take antibiotics (amoxicillin). My tinnitus remained the same throughout the first few weeks of this and the amoxicillin seemed to have no effect. I was sleeping OK; I was using NyQuil at the time. (Previously, I had come to rely on melatonin and Benadryl to get to sleep). Near the end of my cold, my left ear became congested; I could no longer make my left ear "click." At this time, the tinnitus started to become more dominant on the left side. I took Mucinex for about a week and I tried taking some Prednisone that I had for a little bit, but it didn't seem to help. Finally, time caused my ears to go back to normal.

      That brings me up to this week. I finally got over the cold and my ears have mostly gone back to normal, as far as I can tell. But for whatever reason, this week, the ringing seems like it has gotten louder. It's still beneath the "jaw" sound I described earlier, but nevertheless feels like it's louder than what it was. Whereas before I had been able to fall asleep fairly easily most nights (at least after the initial few weeks), even when I had a cold, this week it has been much more difficult. The ringing is loud and clear when I lie down, especially if I try to lay on my side, which I was able to do before. The past two nights, the usual Benadryl/melatonin did not work at all. Last night I broke down and took one of the Klonopin I had left, just out of desperation to get some sleep and not knowing what else to do.

      Obviously I have no way of knowing why it is currently louder than before... Things re-adjusting with the cold clearing up? Switching back to Benadryl after a few weeks without it? The other weird thing this week is that the "fleeting tinnitus" which I normally might experience once in a great while has occurred about once a day. A few seconds where one ear or the other has an elevated sound. I don't know if any of these things are related, but things seem to be in flux, and this is rather disconcerting. After all, I'd gone through quite a bit of stuff without any change to my tinnitus, but now it's fluctuating and I'm second guessing everything I do.

      My strategy for sleep, seeing as the last two nights have been particularly bad, is to initially try only melatonin and maybe have some chamomile tea etc. before hand; and experiment with my sound set-up. I use pillow speakers with a white noise app on my phone. I guess I'll try changing that up a bit. The problem I have, though, is even if I get the masking situation reasonably OK, I still sometimes have trouble getting into "sleep mode". I've used Benadryl to nudge me into slumber and that has worked well up until this week. I guess the other option is to try doxylamine, which is the NyQuil ingredient, which is supposed to be a little more effective. I am reluctant to try more prescription drugs and I don't really want to continue with the Klonopin. I don't feel like I'm at a super-high anxiety level like I was before -- I just need sleep, and last night that was the only thing I felt like I had left to try.

      Anyway, this is where I am. I know I wrote a small novel here, but these are things I've had on my mind for the past 10 weeks. And it's a little bit cathartic to get it all out. If anyone's had a similar experience I would like to hear about it. I'm trying to be hopeful that if my hearing is generally OK, and if the ringing more or less disappeared once, that maybe it can do so again. Meanwhile, the uncertainty of my present situation is difficult to deal with.
       
    2. Zorro!
      Wtf

      Zorro! Member

      Have you tried relaxation exercises and meditation? I found that after a few weeks those things helped more than Klonopin. My anxiety has dropped, my sleep has improved and my appetite has returned. Things aren't perfect of course, and my tinnitus is still screaming, but the relaxation techniques have allowed me to cope with it better.

      Hang in there! (y)
       
    3. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      Thanks. I'm hanging in there. I've gotten better sleep by making a few environmental changes in the past few nights. I used some relaxation techniques in the first few weeks, I might revisit those. Years ago, I used some mindfulness type strategies to mitigate some anxiety when I had worries about career, family responsibilities, and that kind of thing. Of course, I've found some of those concepts to be a little difficult to translate to a tinnitus scenario.

      My coping mechanism for when things are causing me to worry, is to measure it. (I'm a scientist, after all...) Measure how it's going and that will tell me if it's bad. Almost always, it's never as bad as I imagined at first. Back when my son was a few months old and waking up frequently at night, I started writing down how often he was doing so. Although in the first few months of doing this, there were a few rough nights, most of the time it was just one or two wakings, and after several months had passed, that was becoming rare and it wasn't worth the effort to keep a journal.

      The problem with tinnitus is that it's really difficult to objectively measure how it's doing. So my equivalent journal is full of mostly speculation... Seems better today; seems worse today, etc.; The past week has been a little worse because it seems to be changing. Today it seems "back to normal", e.g. back to where it was before I got a cold, but who knows if that's where it's going to stay. A lot of people seem to have very stable sound for years and years, but others have a lot of fluctuation. So it's not possible to develop any expectations. I recently watched the 'Back to Silence' video and that idea appeals to me because it gives me a way to make a sort of "measurement", and rather than ruminate and make a long, speculative journal entry, I can just tick off that I was bothered. I only just started trying this, so I'll update sometime and let you all know if it helps me out.
       
    4. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      A few days ago I passed the 3 month mark since acquiring tinnitus. I thought I would update.

      Two steps forward, one step back. That's how it seems to be going. Right now I am in a "one step back" phase which is why I'm here writing about my experience, I guess. Maybe it's two steps back this time, actually. I'll get back to that later. The first week of March was a little rough, maybe because I was still recovering from illness. Then I had about two weeks in which, for more than half the time, the tinnitus and/or my reaction to it became minimal. Either the ringing itself, my reaction to it, or both, had diminished to a very low level and I felt almost back to normal. When I did notice it, I was not much affected. There were a few times that I purposely listened for it and it wasn't there. In moments where I have been affected, the response has grown less emotional. I haven't had to take a Klonopin since the last time I wrote.

      The last three days have had a different pattern. After I go to sleep, I wake up after about 1 or 2 hours and the ringing feels louder, for whatever reason. The following day it feels louder than the previous. I'm not sure what I could have done to "set it off" as it were; I haven't really changed anything, that I can tell. For sleep, I have been using 2 mg of time release melatonin and 3 mg of regular, non-time release melatonin; the idea being that it would help me get to sleep and stay asleep, and this worked pretty well up until yesterday. (The reason why I ended up using this combination was that I used to use TR melatonin and Benadryl, but ended up replacing the Benadryl with the 3mg somewhere along the way.) Melatonin seems to be almost universally recommended for sleep on this forum, and I've been using it (in different doses) for over 2 months. So I don't know if that is a likely culprit. But it's weird that the increase appears to occur in those first couple hours of sleep--of course, maybe that's just when I perceive it, or it's just a coincidence. In any case, I feel like I've backtracked a lot in the past couple days.

      I tried using the "Back to Silence" method at the beginning of March, but before I got a week into it, the noise quieted down on its own (apparently) and it was sort of unnecessary after that. Two nights ago when i was having problems getting back to sleep, I used the "I hear it... I feel X" sort of as a mantra, and it helped dispel some of the anxiety to mentally repeat it. Last night it was worse, and I couldn't seem to get in a comfortable position and also effectively mask with the pillow speakers. Fortunately, a while back I had bought a pair of "sleep phones" off of Amazon which is basically like a headband with some built in speakers. I was able to get a little bit of sleep with those at last.

      But now I wonder... what about tonight? How many nights in a row can it continue to go up? Maybe I haven't been at this long enough to understand spikes and setbacks. I hope that I can update again and tell you that it was just a temporary setback and that things settled back down again. I will likely continue to try doing the "Back to Silence" method but, honestly, it is very hard to avoid checking the sound when it seems like it's changing, either for better or for worse.
       
    5. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      It may be worth qualifying how good my "good" days have been. Maybe this will give somebody, perhaps myself, some hope, even if I am having a hard time right now. These were bright spots amid some rather gloomy times:

      Back in January I felt so completely confident that it was all done and over with, that I kept a promise I made a month ago to my wife that, if the tinnitus went away, I'd book a cruise for us. Unfortunately it did not stay gone, but I guess I have a cruise to look forward to. I hope in another couple months that things will even out in time for that.

      Last week, I felt good enough to write the following in a letter to someone who asked how I was doing. Perhaps this short paragraph from myself while I was having a good day will be worth something on a bad day.

      My experience has taught me that negativity is about the worst thing you can inflict on yourself. It makes the difference between having a condition and suffering from a condition. Another thing I have learned, is that the passing of time helps, and it is not so easy to notice. Over time, a person will naturally tend to care less about it. In the past week I have experienced this. Might I lapse back into worrying about it? Maybe, but I also have lapsed out of it before. Could it suddenly become worse? Maybe, but it also could spontaneously get better. One can indeed engage in self-defeating behavior that can thwart this natural process, and this can be very difficult to overcome. It is hard to resist picking at a scab in a prominent place. Ruminating over something you cannot control is extremely similar.
      I'm not feeling very close to that right now. However, I've been in my current state before, even if every time I get into that state it feels new and like another good day may never come again. The nice thing is, when I am having a good day, the memory of the bad days fades away quickly and I transition back to my normal self surprisingly quickly.
       
    6. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      My situation improved a great deal in the past week. It seems that my increase was temporary. This was the first time I had one without any apparent reason. It took a few days but things quieted down by the end of the week. I was still kind of nervous afterward because of the up and down, but I went to visit family for Easter and did just fine traveling.

      On Sunday night, however, I had this really weird thing happen. I was laying in bed getting ready to go to sleep, with my usual setup of pink noise and a fan on. As I was laying there, this one particular frequency seemed to stand out of the pink noise like it was somehow selectively amplified over the rest of the spectrum. Like if there was an equalizer with thousands of notches, one of them was cranked way up. It kept me from getting to sleep for several hours and I started getting very anxious. I ended up taking a Klonopin (the first one I'd had to use in a while) and fell asleep for just a little bit. On Monday, I seemed to hear that frequency in ambient noise in different places. That night I slept in the spare room with a different fan and some running water sound rather than pink noise, and I got a full night of sleep. It seemed to have stopped happening on Tuesday. I guess time will tell whether this was a weird anomaly or some damned new thing to deal with.

      It was kind of similar to what was described in this thread -- https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/amplified-distorted-background-noises-phantom-sounds.12987/

      I don't even know what to call that phenomenon. I read about hyperacusis and "reactive tinnitus", but it doesn't seem to fit the bill of either (seems like some people consider these to be the same thing). I didn't have any physical discomfort, and it wasn't an existing tinnitus tone that was changing, but rather like one small piece of the outside sound spectrum that was amplified. It disappeared when I was away from outside noise instigating it. When I switched from pink to brown noise it greatly diminished, but then I could hear the "usual" tinnitus more, and on Sunday night as all this was happening I couldn't calm down enough to sleep.

      Tuesday night I experimented with the same pink noise / fan environment and it didn't respond in the same way. Unfortunately my experience on Sunday left me with a bad feeling about those sounds, so I continued my different setup. I'm not sure what could possibly have caused it. On Sunday morning I had one small cup of coffee for the first time in a while (I normally have tea); but this was like 15 hours later. I kind of think it may be a coincidence. Anyway, I had no caffeine at all yesterday, and I had tea today, so I guess I'll see if there is any similar effect. The only other unusual thing was that I had forgotten to take multivitamins for a few days, but would that really have such an effect? Were it not for this one weird experience I'd say I was in pretty good shape because the actual "static" ringing has been quite low, almost nonexistent, for several days.

      It would be nice if it were some kind of indication that some nerves in the auditory system had "healed" and maybe recalibrated, and maybe this whole tinnitus saga would be over with... Wishful thinking, I know, but is it more or less likely than something pessimistic? I suppose another possibility is that I had been using sleep phones which are basically like a headband with speakers in it, and maybe this was too much noise too close to my ears as opposed to using pillow speakers which are further away. Anyway, it amazes me that we know so little about how our auditory systems really work.
       
    7. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      It's been about a month since the last post, and a little over 4 months since I first got tinnitus. Looking back, I had a 2-week period in March and early April where things were pretty stable, and it wasn't bothering me very much. I had two doctor's appointments in that span of time and I was able to tell both of them that it was "getting better". I was feeling confident that it was clearing up. There were moments when it seemed to be almost gone, and I had one night when I didn't need any white noise to sleep.

      I had one strange occurrence where sounds seemed a little "off" on one side. In the past, I would not have given it a second thought. But after reading extensively about hearing, I felt inclined to check my hearing at different frequencies... and I discovered that there was a particular notch that was missing in my right ear. I noticed some ringing on that side at about the same frequency. I sat at my desk for several hours playing with it, and it entirely came back within an hour. For a short time, I was hearing a different tone on the right side at that frequency, which was strange-- diplacusis? Everything was back to normal within an hour. I called my ENT and they had me in the next day. My hearing was, again, normal... in fact it was perhaps even better than the earlier test. The ENT mainly wanted to talk to me about the possibility of sleep apnea. Anyway, nothing like this has happened again since. Just a strange thing that came and went...

      I was feeling pretty good up until about 2 weeks ago when the tinnitus started to fluctuate again. Right now it's about like it was in early March again. I could copy and paste my first post and all the same things would apply. So I won't repeat all that...

      Instead I'll focus on the positive . Over time, it has gradually tended to affect me less, notwithstanding my present issues due to the fluctuation. That's not to say it isn't still affecting me -- it is quite a bit. But it's better than the earlier months. It still consumes a lot more of my thoughts and energy than I would like. I had tried the "Back to Silence" method for a while but I have not yet been able to do Step #1, stop evaluating the tinnitus directly. I'm not there yet. I read the piece by Stephen Hayes (https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/the-zen-of-tinnitus-acceptance.14406/) and picked up a copy of his book. I think that more things than just the tinnitus bother me, but the uncertainty from the tinnitus has made it more challenging to manage all of them. I haven't started with it yet, but I'll let you know how it goes.
       
    8. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      This is the six month mark for me, so I suppose it is time to chime in with some thoughts.

      I just had my vacation, which included a cruise, and that was fairly enjoyable, despite having tinnitus. I was hoping that I would repeat my experience in my January trip and be sufficiently distracted to naturally ignore it and maybe come home with it gone or sufficiently quiet to forget about. This did not bear out, I think for two reasons; (1) on a family vacation you still have to be a responsible adult so it was a little different in that regard; and (2) over the past several months I think I have trained myself to be very adept at listening to it, not purposely but as a result of being hyper-aware of it and all its fluctuations.

      Things have remained about the same for the past two months. The tinnitus changes from day to day, and while I still have a tonal ringing, I also have a sound that is more like the sound of a gas meter or maybe an old fridge. It's not constant, and not pulsatile, but varies in a random, Brownian way between slightly lower and slightly higher average tones. This, and the pure-tone ringing, seem to ebb and flow independently and with no obvious pattern. In theory, you would think that the gas meter/fridge noise would be easier to ignore because it sounds like some machine that might actually be in the room. However, since it is newer, I am less accustomed to hearing it, and it is currently causing me to react more.

      I saw an audiologist with particular experience in dealing with tinnitus (and who has it herself) and, as before, was able to re-confirm that my hearing is really good, at least as far as they can measure it. It was helpful to discuss all the various issues and have my questions answered by someone with personal experience with tinnitus. However, as I probably don't really need to tell you, I am no closer to an answer about why it's there, which in theory would imply how it might be mitigated or eliminated. I have only just begun to accept that there might never be any answers to these questions.

      I thought that I was slowly habituating. And maybe I have, if only a little bit. I have been using the sleep phones less at night, for example. However, tinnitus continues to occupy my thoughts much more than I would like. I am tired of second-guessing environmental noises, wondering whether the tinnitus is "up to something". I am tired of constantly gauging and measuring it -- an automatic process for me, which I have not yet been able to suppress. I would really love to be oblivious to it, like when I was a kid playing in my room and my dad was outside mowing the lawn. I am still very far from that. Right now, I am strongly considering trying a mindfulness-based program -- if I do that, I will let you know how it went for me.

      I find other people's success stories useful to read. And I read the research news as well.

      It seems that this group is divided between accepting messages of comfort/hope, versus rejecting them in favor of the hard truth that stresses how much a cure is needed. In my opinion, the bigger hard truth is that medical breakthroughs are not primarily found for humanitarian reasons alone, but the prospect of financial reward is probably the bigger consideration. Actually, I think the amount of suffering may have little to do with the likelihood of finding a cure or treatment. After all, there are already many profitable treatments for conditions that cause far less suffering than tinnitus.

      Consider LASIK eye surgery, for example. This procedure enables you to avoid wearing glasses. Poor vision is extremely common -- something like 40% of the population is affected. Wearing glasses is hardly a severe burden, for the vast majority of people with poor vision. Most people with glasses become habituated to having a plastic/metal object resting on the nose, with a black rim around the field of vision. In fact, I will venture a wild guess and say that the rate of habituation is far higher than that of tinnitus. You certainly never hear about people "learning to live" with glasses. (Admittedly, having poor vision doesn't interfere with sleep -- but it still affects all your waking hours.) The point is, here is a condition for which the severity is far less, yet we have an elective treatment that has become one of the most common surgical procedures out there. It did not exist a generation ago.

      Given the amounts of loudness that people expose themselves to these days, the number of people with tinnitus will continue to increase. Even among the habituated, I think many would still prefer if the tinnitus could be eliminated, just to be free from the nuisance. So there is some incentive for the developer of a reliable treatment. The complexity of the problem is a challenge -- but that complexity also means that there is a lot of overlap between tinnitus and other issues such as hearing and neurology, so the net for finding potential cures is probably cast wider than we realize.

      Yes, I would strongly prefer for it to really, truly go away. But if I were able to ignore it most of the time that would be OK, if not as good as really having it gone. At this point in time, the reality is that I simply cannot obtain the former, my only option is the latter. If that means I have to "trick" myself into feeling better, I really don't care at this point. The goal is to feel better.

      But for anyone out there reading this, you should know that I would be willing to pay the equivalent of a monthly car payment in order to be able to turn the damned tinnitus off at will. Now multiply that by several million customers and there is your possible market incentive. Get to work.
       
    9. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      If I'd been thinking of tinnitus much at the 7-month mark a few weeks ago, I might have chimed in to say that I was doing a lot better. But today I am having a bigger "spike" than I've had in quite some time. Otherwise I would not be on this site, I suppose.

      In 2015, I started keeping a journal of my diet and sleep activities, because I was having some intermittent allergy issues. I kept going with the journal out of curiosity. A few days after the tinnitus began, I started tracking my anxiety level. I guess I thought it would be useful at some point. Having read that there was no cure, and after having found it impossible to objectively judge its intensity, instead I decided that each day, I would rate how I felt the previous day had been, on average. This is how it ended up looking:

      upload_2016-7-31_18-12-10.png

      Day zero for me, was an "8". Although I've had moments where my anxiety felt like a "10", I have not spent entire days in that state. The worst time was the first 2-3 weeks at the beginning, and then through most of February I was sick, and it was rather unpleasant over several weeks as my whole head was really congested including my ears.

      Not all the "spikes" are due to tinnitus. The "7" back in June came when I tried to reintroduce my morning coffee... it did not affect the tinnitus, but really ratcheted up my anxiety level. The number is general appraisal of the amount of nervous feeling I had, for whatever reason.

      I guess I'm sharing this to document my experience. On a day like today, when it is bothering me more than usual, I need to read some positive stories. So I thought I'd see if I had any of my own. I was not checking my progress as I tracked it... I looked at it the first time a few weeks ago. There have been some positives: The first day where I felt like marking a "0" was about two weeks ago. In fact, much of July was pretty good; I had a string of "1" days earlier this week. The past few days were a little more tense. If today ended right now, I'd call it a 5 or 6. But there have been other 5s, and 6s within the past month, amid 1s, 2s, and 3s.

      I haven't really done anything specific about the tinnitus at this point. I gave up coffee, but that was more about controlling anxiety and improving sleep. I'd appreciate an active treatment that would directly influence the tinnitus, if such a treatment existed. The best I can do is turn on a fan and try not to think about it as much. I have read about various experimental treatments with great interest. So far the only thing I gave serious consideration to was to take a mindfulness approach to take on the "reaction" side of things... but as things tended to settle on their own so I haven't really pursued it in earnest. Of course, if the present spike continues I may change my mind on that.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    10. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      Quick update. The "spike" I had at the beginning of August seemed to calm down after a few days, but tinnitus was still on my mind pretty heavily. On the Friday before last, I had a new buzzing sound which hung around for a couple hours and eventually went away; this made me feel quite uncomfortable and pretty nervous. I hate it when it's "active" and changing. Feels like something terrible is about to happen.

      However, a few days after that, I was traveling for a week, and tinnitus was not on my mind for the whole time. I was in the Los Angeles area for a week... even amid driving around LA in heavy traffic, transporting a very loud passenger for part of that, spending several busy days at a conference, eating unhealthy food in the day and drinking at night, then returning to my quiet hotel room in the evening, getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night, the tinnitus didn't really bother me all that much. It was still there, but in the background. It was the longest string of '1' days I've had since I started tracking my anxiety levels at the start of this. I was back to my normal self: in fact, better than 'normal' used to be, I'd say. It would be really awesome if this condition actually resolved... it has given me some perspective on some of the other anxieties of life, which are now like nothing.

      Of course, after I returned home, it started bothering me again, after a few days. Did it actually become quieter because I left home and went into a new environment? Somehow, I doubt it. My last trip was to Pittsburgh--pretty different climate from LA--and I had about the same experience. It seems like when I break out of the daily grind, I do a little better. I don't know if this will be repeated on my next trip, but it seems like if I could find a way to transform the daily grind into something other than a grind, there might be a way to at least mitigate its impact, and maybe then I could really learn to ignore it. Sounds good in theory, doesn't it? It would explain why Mondays always seem to be worse... (and it could, like everything else I've tried to correlate the tinnitus with, be yet another coincidence)

      I recently started seeing a new therapist who has previously helped others cope with tinnitus. It took some searching to find someone with that experience. I have only had one appointment so far. One interesting thing that he mentioned was that two of his patients had independently reported getting some benefit from using pine bark extract. One of them reported that her tinnitus went from a '10' to a '4'. Apparently it takes a while for the benefit to kick in. I don't have any more information about that beyond this story.
       
    11. racerfish
      No Mood

      racerfish Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise / T worsened with antiobiotics
      @_Chris I really like reading these updates and seeing how someone who's in a similar boat as me is doing a few months on. Definitely makes me less anxious. Have you thought of trying Prednisone? I'm thinking of giving that a go when I see an ENT this weekend.
       
    12. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      I'm glad this has been helpful. Hopefully things will continue to gradually improve... I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out soon and that is making me nervous lately. One of them has been slowly crumbling over the past year, and recently I can't chew on that side, so it's time for them to go. Thankfully, they are not impacted, so I'm hoping it will be a fast and easy process. If something about that does affect the tinnitus, it'll be the first thing that has done so.

      I was given prednisone back in February, which was for bronchitis. The doctor who gave it to me said it was possible I might experience some improvement in the tinnitus. However, I did not really notice any difference. I only took about half the course of prednisone. I was also given amoxicillin and the bronchitis cleared up after about a week. However, this is such an individual thing, your experience with prednisone could be different.
       
    13. racerfish
      No Mood

      racerfish Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise / T worsened with antiobiotics
      Out of curiosity, is there a reason you didn't finish the Prednisone? Did you have any bad side effects? Also, how long after the onset of T did you take the Prednisone?
       
    14. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      It was about 2 months after the start of tinnitus.

      I didn't notice any effects at all from the prednisone, good or bad. I stopped taking it, because why take something for no reason? That was my thinking at the time, anyway. I was also very cautious of putting any medicine into my body at that time. I was worried about the amoxicillin, but that turned out to be harmless. As were NyQuil and decongestants that I used at the time.

      I still have a lot of fear about antibiotics, because this all started while I was taking Bactrim (not that I know with great certainty that this was truly the cause). I'm not sure how to proceed if I need something more powerful than amoxicillin. I don't know why antibiotics should have this effect, unless they do something in the nervous system. If we knew what that was, perhaps we would have some clues about how to get rid of the tinnitus, at least the kind induced by certain medicines.

      I hope yours settles down.
       
    15. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      I finally had my wisdom teeth removed about 2 weeks ago. There were no complications with that and it has mostly healed up by now. The incision pain went away quickly, but my jaw was pretty sore for about a week. I took a hydrocodone/acetaminophen combo for the first 24 hours; after that, 200 mg of ibuprofen about twice daily worked for me. The tinnitus was unaffected by the extraction as far as I can tell, and in fact things were pretty quiet up to four days after the surgery.

      I had a setback and/or spike around the fifth day. Maybe I was focusing a lot of attention on tinnitus in anticipation that something would happen. Having your face hurt isn't helpful for trying to ignore other things in your head. At the end of last week, things seemed to settle back down, although it seemed to flare up again yesterday (Mondays are like that, I guess), and the first thing this morning, it seemed to be appreciably louder than usual--but right now, a few hours later, it seems to be at its usual level.

      I think I used the word 'seems' four times in the last sentence, but the ringing is so high-pitched I find it difficult to judge. It's nearly at the boundary of perception (can you imagine the color that comes after purple in the spectrum?). This morning was the first time in a while that I felt like I could say: "Yes, this is definitely louder", but a few hours later in the office, it seems to be "same as usual." I also got a flu shot 4 days ago, so who knows? Does the tinnitus have a 96-hour delayed reaction? If this is the extent of the spike, I'll be glad. Maybe another month of relative stability will return things to the steady state that I had through most of the summer.

      In spite of my current issues, I haven't needed masking for most nights in the past month. Last night was actually the first time in a while that I needed to use it. So right now I'm in this weird place where things seem to be both 'better' and 'worse' simultaneously. Well, at least I don't have to have my wisdom teeth taken out ever again.
       
    16. jumping jack
      Probing

      jumping jack Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Dental work
      I hope what I have to say doesn't come out as patronizing or even critical. It's merely my reflection on the situation you have found yourself in.

      Like you, I have background in science, and in my day job I predominantly work with facts and logical constructs. What I discovered some time ago is that this had wedged my mindset into this view that everything in life has a rational explanation, and as such has a rational solution that can be arrived at after spending enough time analyzing it. This, I believe, had predisposed me to obsess with having control over virtually every detail in my life. This realization led me to the conclusion that if I wished to live a varied and satisfactory life, I would have to leave some things hanging with a question mark and without a fix. A "s__t happens" attitude, during those times when I have no choice in the matter. I'm not all the way there yet; very few people are. But I'm moving along, and learning a new thing about myself every now and then.

      Enough about me.

      In you, I see a struggle to find an explanation for the tinnitus sensations you experience that would make sense to you; you try to fit it inside an Excel spreadsheet, if you will. I think this what causes you to constantly monitor the ringing in your ear, and try to figure out a pattern, some correlation with other factors, be it your last meal, your use of medicine, and so on. It is my conviction that this is a mission that has no end, serves no purpose, and only keeps you stuck in this rut that has your mind in a daily state of anxiety, always ready to flare up at the smallest provocation from a change in how you perceive tinnitus. You gotta find a way to let it go. There is the stimulus -- the ringing in your ears, and the response -- your worry about it, and of the two, you can really only do anything about the response. The stimulus, for all you know, might be some neuron that has gone bonkers, and is playing games on you. But unless it so painful or so strong as to not allow your mind to wander elsewhere, you can learn to adjust your response. In due time, it'll become just another quirk that you carry around with you, and whenever it enters your mind you will think about it with little, if any, emotion; like you'd do about, say, graying hair.

      I don't have a definitive idea about how you would accomplish that. Perhaps, the answer is seeing a therapist to help your crystallize your thoughts and concerns, one who will be able to formulate a strategy that will elicit the changes you are seeking. Or it could be meditation; or yoga; or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Who knows. It's worth a try, though, even if you don't succeed at first.

      ...Yikes, I hope this long-winded piece didn't come out too preachy, either. Just saying it as I see it.
       
    17. _Chris

      _Chris Member

      Location:
      Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      medication?
      Yes, I agree with pretty much everything you said above. I am working through it with a therapist who has helped me to realize that...
      • A huge part of me is really strongly still wanting to fight / solve the problem and I am not adequately addressing that.
      • I'm mistaking the notion of habituation for the condition of silence. I'm still, subconsciously, defining success in terms of going to a quiet place and not noticing any noise. Which isn't going to happen.
      In my case these underlying issues have been causing me difficulty in spite of being consciously aware of the realities of the situation. I have been trying to feel in control of the situation by analyzing it to death.

      About that analysis -- Yes, I've searched extensively for tinnitus correlations and found no reliable, repeatable changes.

      I have been working through my issues with a little success. Although I am still having up and down periods, I would have said that habituation has been feeling like a possibility. Another user posted a success story and I see a lot of similarities with my experience and theirs. I feel like I am entering the stage where I am having "conversations" with myself about tinnitus rather than reacting to it.

      However, as an early anniversary present, yesterday my tinnitus gave me a new sound. It's the first new sound I've had appear in at least six months. I guess it thought I was getting bored with the existing sounds. This one is not as high pitch as the others and is only in one ear. As I have only been aware of it for about 24 hours, I am not sure if it's going to stick around for good or not. It's pretty much the same "volume" as the others, but is new and alien feeling, and being of a different pitch it seems to stick out like a sore thumb against the rest of the sounds, at least in a quiet place. I don't know yet, but this might be the biggest setback I've had in a while (or, optimistically, it might just fizzle out and not even matter).

      It's kind of funny... if you asked me 1 year ago, would you rather have to hear this high pitch robotic cricket field or this medium pitch broken motor with some worn out bearings, I'd have picked the latter. Today, I'm like, can I just have the crickets, hold the motor?

      The silver lining is that it made me realize that I've actually become pretty familiar with, and, despite still having it on my mind way too much, somewhat used to the tinnitus I already had...

      Nevertheless, I think I am coping better than I would have previously. Yes, I'm still feeling nervous and disappointed about the existence of this new sound, however it's less intense than it would have been before. I can somewhat tell myself--and almost believe it--that it's likely that I'll eventually feel the same way about this sound as I do the others. I just wonder how long it'll take for the novelty to wear off...

      I had another experience with habituation a month ago. I was having a hard time falling asleep so I went to lay on the couch. I fell asleep on the couch in my quiet living room with no fan or masking or anything. The cat woke me up early next morning. When I woke up I noticed that there was a clock on the wall and it was ticking. That may not sound significant, but let me explain that there was a time, not long ago, when I required significant control over my sound environment to get to sleep... a dripping faucet or ticking clock would have been unacceptable. And here was a sound that I'd totally not even noticed -- habituation of perception. No, it wasn't habituation to the tinnitus, but it made me feel that it could be possible.
       

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