What Is "Over Protection"? Everyday Noises Are Too Loud, Afraid to Go Outside

Discussion in 'Support' started by sjtinguy, Dec 10, 2017.

    1. sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      I have been dealing with moderate/severe tinnitus from noise for a little over a month, and I believe I had started to develop hyperacusis prior to this, as my ears had felt like a minor ear infection had been coming on. I wish I had realized it not an actual infection before the tinnitus came on full force, but at this point it's too late for that.

      I have been resting and avoiding all loud noise as much as possible.. or at least as much as possible for someone who lives in a city near an airport. I feel like the dull ache has gone away a lot, but I am still very sensitive to sounds that are at normal levels, and environments above 70db or so runs the risk of making my tinnitus worse. Motorcycles or cars with loud engines driving by my house can be really irritating, and even sometimes the white noise masking sounds are too much.

      I feel like I need to wear hearing protection almost whenever I am outside due to traffic, airplanes, etc. This is very frustrating, but any time I try to "push it" and do something normal without protection, I end up feeling like my tinnitus goes right up. Maybe I recover more quickly than weeks ago, but it's so easy to have a setback. I see some people here talking about "over protection" and acclimating oneself to regular levels of sound, but any time I try this, it doesn't seem like it helps anything. The outside world is too unpredictable, and even a noise for split second can cause hours or days of anxiety and loss of sleep.

      I feel like being paranoid about every sound is not good, but when I protect like crazy I notice more improvement than when I don't.. maybe it's not real improvement though if I can't actually participate in the world without it coming back. Maybe I just need more time?

      Trying to live a normal life is so hard when you are scared of normal things making the ringing so much worse... even when the ringing is bearable, the fear of making it worse makes it so hard to relax.
       
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    2. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I had adopted your approach to dealing with T. It had worked well for me. Gradually, my H stopped being a problem too.
       
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    3. Lex
      Blah

      Lex Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bad decisions
      I personally think that only you can tell what is overprotection. Someone with only mild T may be overprotecting when they wear earplugs while walking on the street, but for someone like me whose H had been severe and now bad, going protectionless in the same scenario is equivalent to suicide.

      Also, if a person with mild T do want to wear earplugs, then I can't fault them at all. It takes one bad injury to cross the line from mild to catastrophic. It sure happened to me.
       
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    4. lapidus

      lapidus Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
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    5. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      "Underprotection
      Increased sound exposure can lead to setbacks. A setback is a sudden drop in sound tolerance as opposed to the gradual reduction in sound tolerance that occurs during overprotection. Setbacks are expected during recovery however they are an under-researched aspect of hyperacusis. Setbacks lasting several days are common. Setbacks lasting weeks, months, or years occur less often but can be deeply discouraging. Anecdotally, it seems setback duration and setback severity reduce to a degree in time. Setback duration and severity also seem to be correlated with hyperacusis severity. While there are over 2200 posts on hyperacusis setbacks in the patient forum on chat-hyperacusis.net, no academic papers could be found using a pubmed search. Some clinicians will inform the patient that sound levels below 85 dB (equivalent to noise from heavy traffic) are safe as they are unlikely to cause long-term hearing loss. While this is comforting and good to know, the relevance to setbacks is unclear as long-term hearing loss (often outer hair cell loss) is not suspected to be related to hyperacusis setbacks. Sound levels that trigger setbacks may be dependent on baseline LDLs and the particular subtype of hyperacusis (pain or loudness). There is a glaring need for research into setbacks to assess the consequences of underprotection. Setback thresholds, duration, severity, and frequency should be studied in relation to long-term recovery. Only then should maximum “safe” sound levels be defined."
       
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    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      Thanks for that link, it explained it pretty well. I think I will err on the side of overprotection for now, though as I heal I will continue to try to test my limits, gently. This week my tinnitus has dropped significantly, especially when I am not stressed out, so keeping the healing path with fewer setbacks is the way to go for me.
       
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    7. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      That's because the "regular levels of sound" of the world include sounds that our hearing is not prepared to deal with. Some doctors would evaluate our hearing on the basis of an "ordinary life in an urban area", and that means being exposed to noise that is louder (planes, motorbikes, construction, traffic, PA systems, sirens etc) than recommended for preserving a good hearing.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      Yeah living in an urban environment it's impossible to avoid loud noises, but it sure would be nice to be able to handle temporary loud stuff... even moderately loud sounds which are totally safe can make my ear feel achy and potentially bring on worse tinnitus
       
    9. Taylorslay
      Happy

      Taylorslay Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Years of excessively loud headphone use
      Over protection is based on you most of the time. But it's recommend that you don't wear protection unless something is actually loud enough to damage you. Understanding just because something is painful or discomforting due to Hyperacusis, doesn't mean it's damaging.

      The problem with long term protection is it can lead to worsening hyperacusis, and for some who do, permanent hyperacusis. Which no one wants. There are many people who over protect for long periods of time and they swear by it. But find themselves ending up with permanent and severe hyperacusis.

      For people with hyperacusis, they can have Tinnitus related spikes. Which seem to be what I've seen, temporary. Even though they may last 2-4 weeks at most, they are more often temporary.

      It's important that you don't cause discomfort to your ears or sit in silence. I suggest playing something soothing that doesn't irritate you. It's important that you do this because you desensitize your ears, which is important. Where as over protection or sitting in silence can sensitize your ears further. Which will lead to, obviously worsening hyperacusis.

      Luckily for many people hyperacusis goes away on it's own. Mine, hasn't yet however it's gotten tremendously better. I went from the light wind brushing on the trees causing me serious pain, to now only loud things like car horns or dog barks up close causing me discomfort.

      (I bolded the word discomfort because there is a big difference between pain and a little discomfort, which is very important. It shows tremendous progress.)

      You even said yourself you had gotten better.

      I must say, I live right next to Orlando International Airport. So planes fly by every 2 minutes. The cars are bad too but I think it's important to note, if it's not causing you discomfort, then don't worry about it.

      It's important that you don't worry about your Tinnitus and Hyperacusis. Worry and anxiety does make things worse.

      @Michael Leigh I think you'd be better at explaining this than me.
       
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    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Nothing else for me to add @Taylorslay for you have explained over protecting the ears very well.
      All the best
      Michael
       
    11. JurgenG
      Approved

      JurgenG Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Belgium
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise exposure / headphone accident maybe?
      The part of permanent H is new to me, I always figuren that H due to overprotecting is temporary?
       
    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Unfortunately this is not always the case. Whilst each person is different, overprotecting the ears is not advised as there are risks and dangers involved if one isn't careful. This concerns me and I want to write about this in the near future.

      All the best
      Michael
       
    13. JurgenG
      Approved

      JurgenG Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Belgium
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise exposure / headphone accident maybe?
      Thanks Michael! But it seems like such a thin line between protecting and overprotecting.
      The "better safe than sorry" attitude is something we sometimes want to live by, but never figured I could end up with permanent H..
       
    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @JurgenG

      Tinnitus and hyperacusis can be complex and in many cases difficult to treat. It is not helped by overprotecting the ears. I covered this in my post: Hyperacusis, As I see it. I feel more needs to be said on this issue and therefore, I've been looking into it and uncovered a few things that may be of interest to someone when they relate it to their own experience of hyperacusis.

      Michael
       
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    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      A small update.. my hyperacusis has been improving somewhat. I can now handle most sounds inside my house including cars driving by without covering my ears instinctively or reaching for ear protection. I still use protection when using a blender or vacuum, etc though. Unfortunately music and TV from speakers even at low levels is still somewhat bothersome but also getting better.

      I stopped using foam ear plugs completely but still use ear muffs quite often. I feel like perhaps I need to get a pair with less protection as my ears become less sensitive. I have been looking into noise cancelling headphones but haven't invested in any yet, it seems like perhaps they would be useful for being able to modulate the amount of reduction one applies.. but I gotta admit, it's scary to be placing any kind of speaker right next your ear, even noise canceling ones.

      Being scared of all sounds makes life unbearable. Using ear protection can help a lot to reduce those fears.. but I found quickly that relying on protection all the time compounds those fears because you start to be afraid of even moderately loud sounds which might not have bothered you before. I have been gently testing my limits and have been pleasantly surprised when even things like a brief car horn didn't cause any pain or tinnitus spike either. I do feel like testing limits means sometimes you might go a little too far and end up with a setback, but as long as it's at a safe level, hopefully the recovery time will be brief. I also notice the more times I recover from an hyperacusis set back and/or tinnitus spike, the less afraid I am of moderate sounds.. just knowing what to expect is helpful, even if it's unpleasant
       
    16. Maureen777

      Maureen777 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Vancouver Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      2007
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Listening to loud music w earbuds & recent ear irrigation
      I always carry foam earplugs in my purse, and have to wear them most of the time when I'm out. Especially my right ear, which is the one with the tinnitus. If I occasionally forget the ear plugs at home, and I'm out at a loud restaurant, or even on a loud bus, or shopping mall, I kind of panic. There's no way I can go out into the world without my earplugs. But that's just me.
       
    17. victoria9273
      Amused

      victoria9273 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Hyperacusis since 2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Use of earbuds
      I've been wearing earplugs whenever I go outside and the reason was that the sound of the doorlock was simply unbearable. And I can clearly see the result now.
      You shouldn't wear earplugs when you're outside and the sound is normal. You should wear it if it's dangerously loud but don't make your brain adjust to that muffled sound.
      I really regret that I wore such things at all events. So in my case it would be much harder to treat the symptom...
       
    18. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      I stopped wearing ear plugs and have switched to ear muffs exclusively. Whenever it is quiet in the ear muffs to the point I hear my tinnitus louder than the outsides sounds, I take the muffs off unless it is a high risk environment like a busy street

      I deliberately test myself by doing things that are slightly out of my comfort zone but should be safe, and I feel like it is really helping build my self confidence
       
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    19. iAzra
      Hurting

      iAzra Member

      Location:
      Croatia
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma, Stress, Nose hit
      Any updates? :)
       
    20. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      sjtinguy

      sjtinguy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      I kind of hit a wall at a certain point and stopped seeing major improvements unfortunately, though some of that may be due to the fact that as I improved, I'd be more willing to push myself and increase my potential exposure. At the beginning of this month someone revved their engine a bunch of times right next to me while I was wearing muffs and I felt physical pain. This caused a bad setback and loud vehicles driving by my house became irritating again. I stopped trying to push my limits as much though I still try to avoid wearing muffs whenever possible... but I really don't like cars or airplane noises at all. I was definitely improving over the month of december and into january though.. I probably should have continued to take it easy instead of trying to jump back into my old life which involves being exposed to traffic a lot
       
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