What Are the Long-Term Effects of Tinnitus on Health & the Brain?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Milky Way, Jun 15, 2021.

    1. Milky Way

      Milky Way Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Caused by stress and music as far as I know
      I've been enduring tinnitus for the last 17 years, and it has been very severe for the last 9 years.

      I am pretty much constantly overwhelmed by the intensity and relentless nature of my tinnitus. I am sure a few people here can relate to that.

      I know about the obvious side effects such as depression, anxiety etc that this condition causes but I would like to know about the long term side effects on brain and overall health.

      How does tinnitus affect cognition, memory? I think I read someone mentioned here about long term risks of developing Alzheimer's?
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    2. convolution

      convolution Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Sweden - Italy
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      White Noise from Headphones (likely)
      About the relation between tinnitus and Alzheimer's (and Parkinson's) I found this (published in Nature):

      Tinnitus and risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease: a retrospective nationwide population-based cohort study

      If you search "tinnitus cognitive impairment" on Google Scholar you will get a lot of results. However it's not clear (at least to me) what the consensus is.

      For instance this Korean study (published, but not in a top journal) says: "It is commonly believed that tinnitus patients may have difficulties with attention span and memory. Many studies have reported that poor cognitive performance was associated with tinnitus. However, unlike hearing loss, which has been reported to be an independent risk factor for dementia, the link between tinnitus and cognitive impairment remains unclear."

      This area seems to be a minefield though; you can probably easily prove and disprove whatever you want.
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    3. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      It is obviously harder to hear in some situations, specially when there's tinnitus and hearing loss. It's a weird sensation, because there is a layer of sounds you don't hear and then the tinnitus on top. So it affects the retention of what is said, somehow is like the head processes everything slower... in the sense of "did that person say that or that other thing?". And while you process this that person moved on and is already saying another thing.

      So there's information missing, it's harder to "store" quickly what is said, to get all the important pieces of info or data in a conversation.
    4. Martinf

      Martinf Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      In extreme cases tinnitus can lead to dementia. In my own experience after 15 months of severe tinnitus, I can tell I got some brain damage, not sure what and how but I can tell my brain is not the same. I can't concentrate or think like before. It has also affected me physically. I just feel weak and dizzy. Plus, I have a headache all the time.
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    5. linearb

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      This hasn't been studies nearly as well as pure stress has; it's well documented that living in a state of stress and distress is neurotoxic, possibly carcinogenic, and related to dementia etc

      So, I think managing stress (exercise, meditation, diet, medication if needed) is more important than wondering about scary things we don't really know and can't control. It's a sure bet that if you live another 40 years your mind won't be as sharp as it is now, worrying about that is pointless. Something's gonna getcha.
      I'm very sorry for what you're going for but none of this is evidence of "brain damage", and no, a person generally cannot subjectively tell the difference between concentration problems arising from being in a distress state, and concentration problems arising from some kind of organic damage (which you almost certainly don't have). Confusion, problems thinking clearly, and to some extent vestibular problems are hallmarks of stress states.

      When we say stress is neurotoxic, we mean over a space of decades -- people with severe unchecked stress for decades have all sorts of problems. Most people go through some periods of extended, severe stress as part of life. This is normal and we are built to tolerate it.

      Chronic problems like tinnitus can exert a constant stress, which is a different matter but all we can do is manage it with as much patience and self-compassion as possible to minimize the impact it has on our well being and long term health.

      There's limited evidence that long term hearing deficits correlate to mental decline in old age. There's zero clinical data I've ever seen that "tinnitus in extreme cases can lead to dementia" so if you have some citations on that I'd love to read.
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    6. Elmer B Fuddled

      Elmer B Fuddled Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      plugged nasal eustachian tube
      Here's what I've read concerning tinnitus and Alzheimer's. It's not that tinnitus and or hearing loss causes Alzheimer's or dementia. What I've read and a doctor has told me is that some people with tinnitus and hearing loss lose the ability to communicate which puts them in solitary confinement due to not being able to hear a conversation. With that people become alone and lose interest. And with that people get depressed and dementia.

      Alzheimer's is not connected to hearing loss or tinnitus.

      I think you, and others who want to know more, should purchase Bill Bryson's latest book titled, "The Body: A Guide for Occupants". He has done a load of research and about it, and explains dementia and Alzheimer's and what causes them.
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