Wearing Earplugs... Maybe Not a Good Idea?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Mario martz, Sep 21, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. Mario martz
      Creative

      Mario martz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Hey Guys,
      7 months since onset.
      i rarely wear earplugs (foam plugs in my case)
      unless im in a loud place.
      but ive been choose it not to wear them at the streets, calm restaurants and malls.

      but this past week, ive decided to wear them for a few hours at the mall and a restaurant that had lots of tvs on.

      after that ive been experience sensitivity to sound (a little bit stronger than before)
      Some things like cars sound so louder than before.
      and today i woked up with a "plugged" "blocked" ear feeling.
      hope it goes away...

      im just only worried about the blocked ear feeling,
      i woke up in the middle of the night with that feeling and right now its a little less.
      wondering if wearing ear plugs had something to do with it, or that i have mocus, or that the foam plugs were kind of used....

      what do you guys think?
       
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Mario martz You are right to only use earplugs in noisy environments, but in your case I wouldn't recommend the foam type as you are blocking-out the majority of the sound around you . In my opinion, it is much better to use noise reducing earplugs. These reduce external sound levels from about 18 decibels (other types are available) but don't block out all of the sound like foam earplugs. With foam earplugs, there is a risk of making your hearing hypersensitive if you use earplugs on a regular basis because you find external sound too loud.

      Some people with hyperacusis do this because their ears are sensitive to sound; however, this is not a good idea as the symptoms usually become worse and there is a danger of making the ears so hypersensitive a person can develop Phonophobia which is a FEAR of sound and it can be extremely painful. If a person is sensitive to sounds, then it is an indication that they have hyperacusis and one of the best ways to treat this is by wearing white noise generators which desensitizes the auditory system. This treatment is known as TRT and tinnitus patient should be under the care of a Hearing Therapist.
       
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    3. Sam Bridge

      Sam Bridge Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music/gigs probably
      @Michael Leigh i have always been afraid of fireworks as they make me jump every time. Is that hyperacausis?
       
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Sam Bridge
      No, from your description I don't believe your fear of fireworks is hyperacusis. Hyperacuasis is often associated with tinnitus. It's when the ears (auditory system) has suffered noise trauma and they become sensitive to many sounds. Hyperacusis can be very painful to the ears. If you want to know more about it, then please click on the link below. I have written a post titled: An Introduction to tinnitus which also covers hyperacusis and other topics associated with the ear which you might find helpful.
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/an-introduction-to-tinnitus.12100/
       
    5. Sam Bridge

      Sam Bridge Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music/gigs probably
      Ah okay, yeah loud bangs like that or pyro bangs at concerts have always made me jump before i got tinnitus. Just wondered if that meant i had sensitive ears. Thanks for the link i'll have a read.

      Did you find that bbc programme at all?
       
    6. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015

      Michael, I totally agree and have been saying the exact same thing for quite a while. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of people here are phonophobic, which only makes tinnitus symptoms worse in my opinion.

      H is different, but I still believe a safe tolerance should be built up rather than overprotecting. I know some members report wearing ear muffs for extended periods of time, very regularly, and I personally see this as a mistake (just my opinion). I see it as sensory deprivation, and there's always a chance that the brain will make changes based on the input it is receiving; if done often enough. In essence, the background gain of your auditory system could easily be increased by extreme overprotection.

      There's nothing wrong with avoiding stupidly loud events as there is a legitimate risk. However, many of life's other pleasures can get what I call 'loud', but not loud in the ridiculous sense of the word. On these occasions I protect my ears with custom molded plugs and select a filter to suit the level of noise I'm being exposed to. So far it's worked great for me personally. I've found that the perception of my T has improved a lot, and the knock on effect of this is a reduction in anxiety. Basically, the exact opposite process that the vicious circle of T normally creates.

      Less anxiety means thinking about T less, which in turn leads to a further reduction in stress etc
       
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    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Ed209
      Good post Ed209. I fully agree with you especially when you say: a lot of the people here are phonophobic. I have read some stories that make me shudder. I mean no disrespect, but some people haven’t got the slightest idea what they are doing or know how delicate the auditory system is, especially some of the newbies that want to self medicate. One person wanted to try a concoction of different medications. I had visions of this individual in the kitchen with pestle and mortar grinding up tablets- scary!
       
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      No luck I'm afraid but there is a similar programme that I found on youtube made in in the UK four years ago titled:
      Tonight noise induced hearing loss and clubbing <<<< Type that into youtube and it'll take you to the programme. You can clearly hear some of the people saying: "louder the music the better" when told about hearing damage and tinnitus caused by loud music. They seem to think it's so funny. The programme is called TONIGHT
       
    9. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015

      I know, tell me about it. It's dangerous territory when you start taking a mixture of prescription drugs without medical advice.

      The last time I flagged the issue of phonophobia it didn't go down too well. I get that there are varying degrees of severity and there can be H to contend with, but I stand by my beliefs that continuous overprotection is not the answer.

      And, living a sheltered life is also not the answer. Drastic changes to ones life can bring about depression and all sorts of other problems. A measured approach based on rational thinking - not fear driven thoughts - is far better.
       
    10. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      it's very hard to say. What @Michael Leigh said is the typical advice from audiologists; I strongly disagree with it, though it depends on why you're wearing earplugs. Pure audio phobia is bad, on the other hand, I routinely wear them while I sleep and often when I'm working if I need to focus... so that could be 50-60 hours a week of earplugs use, and it's never caused me any problems. In fact, my tinnitus seems quieter in general when I sleep with them regularly.

      There are also plenty of people who wear earplugs 40+ hours a week as a result of the work they do. What there aren't, are peer-reviewed case histories of even a single person who ever developed tinnitus or other hearing problems as a result of earplug use, nor is there, at present, any plausible mechanism that's understood to make this risky. Certainly, wearing plugs does cause temporary changes in the auditory system -- as evidenced by how loud and crisp everything sounds when you initially remove them. However, it seems to me that that sort of short-term change is well within the normal operating parameters of what ears are evolved to compensate for.

      There may not be any absolutes here, you'll have to experiment. Certainly the risks of wearing plugs are small compared to not wearing them enough!

      edit: note that I am by no means phonophobic, I ride a motorcycle ;) I'm also not saying I think it's implausible that for some people earplugs can become part of a psychological feedback loop which is detrimental to their condition... but then we're really talking about psychological problems. I strongly believe that the only physical risks of earplug use relate to how you insert and remove them; it's possible to cause a barotrauma if you're not careful, especially if you remove them very quickly.
       
    11. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      The other issue which hasn't been brought up is the possibility of compacted ear wax.

      The way the brain handles the senses is extremely complex and not fully understood, as we all know. I do believe that the brain adapts to what you give it, and this goes for the auditory system as well. I suppose it would depend on how it's applied, as night use of ear plugs is when you are unconscious.

      As an example, I would highlight the sight inversion experiment, whereby you wear special glasses that invert your vision. After around 3 days the brain compensates for this and flips your vision back to the correct orientation. However, when the glasses come off you will temporarily see upside down. I believe on some level the same is true of the auditory system. If you block your ears during the day whilst you're conscious I believe the brain will know there's a problem and try to adjust/compensate for the lack of sensory input. If done regularly I personally believe your brain can adapt, and that's not necessarily a good thing.

      That's what I believe and I may be completely wrong, but it's food for thought.
       
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    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @linearb
      I use ear defenders when using power tools and petrol gardening equipment such as my lawn mower. If I’m out at a nightclub for instance and the music is loud then I’ll use noise-reducing earplugs, which reduce sound levels by 18 decibels and find them quite effective. They don’t impair sound quality just reduce sound levels to what I feel is safe. I haven’t had any problems.

      Tinnitus is a complex condition that comes in many forms and intensities and no two people will experience it the same. Therefore, there will always be differences between people. What affects one person might not affect another and vice versa. It is for this reason I mostly focus on tinnitus that was caused by exposure to loud noise but I’m aware many other things can cause it. Since my tinnitus was caused by loud noise with very severe hyperacusis, I hope my experiences will be able to help other people, but any advice I give should only be used for guidance.

      I am a strong believer that anyone whose tinnitus was caused by loud noise exposure should use sound enrichment at night even after they habituate to tinnitus. I have written a lot about this (please see above link) but appreciate some people choose not use sound enrichment. Again, my advice is just a suggestion and should be used for guidance purposes only.

      Michael
       
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    13. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I think that's a pretty good starting point, and I certainly did this at the beginning -- and any time it's especially bothersome (though at this point only when I'm awake, and never for sleep). But, just to highlight how different we all are: I slept with a fan for the first 30 years of my life; now I sleep in complete silence, because experience has brought me to the hard conclusion that my tinnitus is, in general, louder and more piercing in the morning if I've slept with any kid of constant noise in my environment. The bonus of this for me is that being able to sleep in silence has also enabled me to sleep comfortably with silicone earplugs in, which makes it dramatically easier to sleep when I'm in loud urban zones, or if my partner is snoring, or the cat is crying, etc.

      @Ed209 agree completely, and those experiments are interesting. I also have a book about tibetan dream practices where the author talks about spending 40 days (!!) in total silence and darkness, meditating in a cave -- and the experience of returning to the world and finding everything amazingly stimulating and complex for a few days. Seems very possible that those mechanisms might have longer lasting effects in people with certain kinds of neurological problems... though, again, my experience is that I'm fine wearing plugs for long periods.
       
    14. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      Interesting story about the about the Tibetan man. The plasticity of the brain marvels me as it's continually being rewired based on our experiences.
       
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    15. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      this whole book is, to me, pretty fascinating: https://www.amazon.com/Tibetan-Yogas-Dream-Sleep/dp/1559391014

      I've had some pretty interesting experiences with my tinnitus in various lucid states as a result of attempting to do the practice the book lays out, too :D
       
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    16. dudeguywithstuff

      dudeguywithstuff Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      anxiety
      It baffles me that anyone with T would want to wear earplugs. You erase all masking noise by wearing them and force yourself to listen to the T. Even when I had hyperacusis at the start, I'd much prefer more T volume than nothing to listen to except my T.
       

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