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.