The onset of loud intrusive tinnitus can be very traumatic for most people. I use the words loud and intrusive, because tinnitus comes in many forms and intensities. When it is mild, moderate or occasionally heard in quiet surroundings it is usually not too bothersome and a person can go about their daily affairs quite happily and unperturbed by this anomaly. This type of tinnitus usually comes on gradually and in some cases it’s associated with hearing loss, as we get older and the usual treatment is the wearing of hearing aid/s.
Tinnitus can be caused by other things: an underlining medical problem, build up of ear wax (cerumen). Jaw problems. Some medications and even irregular blood flow through the body causing Pulsatile tinnitus. There are a plethora of other conditions that can be responsible. However, the most common cause is exposure to loud noise or music that has been played at high levels causing some damage to the cochlea in the inner ear.
This type of tinnitus can be loud, intrusive and very debilitating. Often leaving a person at a loss and not knowing which way to turn to escape the nightmare that has suddenly come upon them. Your Dr has probably told you, it’s tinnitus and nothing can be done, you’ll just have to learn to live with it. I remember those words as if it were yesterday resonating through my mind and thinking, live with this for the rest of my life, impossible. So I fully understand how difficult it can be for someone new to this condition to take this in and believe it to be factual.
If you are having difficulty sleeping you might have been advised to try a night time sedation or an ant-depressant to help cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompanies tinnitus. These medications can be helpful especially in the early stages and they don’t have to be taken long term, so it’s something to consider. They can act as a safety net so you don’t become too down.
A referral to ENT will usually be recommended. In the mean time try to keep occupied with something you like doing, as it helps to distract the brain from focusing on the tinnitus.
Avoiding quiet rooms during the day by playing low-level non-intrusive music such as classical in the background can be helpful.
At night a sound machine placed by the bedside playing nature sounds or listening to favorite mp3 tracks or Cds are good. Keeping the volume just below the tinnitus is ideal and set to play throughout the night until morning. It takes time to get used to sound therapy so please stay with it. Whilst in a deep sleep it supplies the brain and auditory system with sound enrichment.
Over time the tinnitus is pushed further into the background helping to make its perception less noticeable during waking hours.
In the early stages of tinnitus, if one chooses not to use sound enrichment sleeping can sometimes be difficult and there’s also the chance of the tinnitus becoming more intrusive as sleeping in a quiet room can allow the brain to increase it’s own background activity. In doing so it will also increase the tinnitus making it more intrusive during waking hours.
There is a tendency for newbies to try and cure their tinnitus which is quite understandable. There are many remedies, treatments and concoctions out there. Some affordable others quite expensive. I am not adverse to trying to help myself but want to say, there are charlatans and con artists eager to relieve someone in distress of their money so please be careful. Even tried and tested treatments I wouldn’t recommend a person try until they have been seen at ENT.
Often a person after been seen at ENT is advised to wait a while.
The reason being. Many people habituate to tinnitus within six months sometimes a little longer and it has been known to go away. The ear is a very delicate organ and many Drs prefer to wait before investigating further and then suggesting a treatment.
If other problems are experienced such as: pain in the ears, deafness, dizziness or balance problems this is of more concern and a person will usually been seen quicker.
It is best to have a word with your GP if you’re feeling stressed or depressed in any way, as previously mentioned there are treatments available. Leaving things alone until ENT advise you of the next step is the best thing to do in my opinion.
Don’t try to fix anything or throw large sums of money at treatments that you have no way of knowing whether you’ll get any relief.
I don’t advise listening to audio through headphones even at low volume and keep away from loud sounds.
By all means go out but anywhere that plays loud music then wear noise reducing earplugs. Take things slowly and one day at a time.
Many people eventually habituate to their tinnitus and go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life even though it may take a little time.