British Tinnitus Association
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Need help for hyperacusis

Hi,I have had tinnitus now just over 11 weeks.then developed hyperacusis about 3 weeks after.i'm gradually getting better with tinnitus but hyperacusis is getting worse,can't even go into a grocery shop now as fridges are driving me mad and air conditioning units.i'v read alot of mixed opinions on weather or not to wear ear plugs in normal every day activities,so far I haven't done this but since I seem to be getting worse I think I might have to.i had alot of wax removed 2 weeks before I got hyperacusis but don't think it was the cause as surely it would have happened sooner. Any advice on this would be welcome? I'm really struggling with this

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Hi Michael, I only have my own theory on hyperacusus having suffered from it in the first few months of getting T ( I had to carry on playing in our band too!).

I understand that when we are very anxious about the T ( or anything else really) it’s possible to go into fight or flight mode as our brain thinks it’s a threat. Unfortunately fight or flight mode causes all our senses to amplify. Like a stereo amplifier, if you push up the mic gain too much, everything becomes distorted.

The fear of sound sets in and that keeps us in this fight or flight mode. I believe the trick is to gradually expose ourselves back to normal sounds and try to block our emotional response to it. Use the logical part of our brain to train the emotional part in effect.

Fear creates fear I’m afraid, so it’s about braking that cycle.

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Hi asw21,has your hyperacusis completely gone away and how long did it take? I've started listening to nature sounds and water sounds as I heard that this can help.but really don't know.i thought at this stage I would see some improvements but definitely getting worse.fridges and air conditioning the worst but squealing brakes not much better 😭

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I had it for the first few months but that was 6 years ago. I just used musicians ear plugs when I was playing (still do!). It definitely went away once I started to block any emotional responses to sound.

Yes, listen to anything which sounds ‘nice’ if it helps. The main thing really is to practice not attaching your negative emotions to sound in general. It’s not easy at first but like must breakthroughs it takes time, will power and little steps.

BTW, if you use ear plugs, use musician type ones like the BTA recommend. They still allow all the frequencies through, just at a lower volume.

The other problem with hiding from normal sounds is that you may notice your T more as you have less background sound to mask the T. As I say, the suffering side to T and hyperacusus is mainly psychological so we need to use our will power to overcome it. If you have obsessive tendencies like me, that makes it a bit harder. but then again if you can absorb yourself with something positive it might be easier to lose focus on the T or sound in general.

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HI Michael,

Please click on the link below and read my post that you might find helpful: Hyperacusis, As I See It

healthunlocked.com/bta/post...

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I think we still disagree on this Michael but at least everyone can pick whatever works for them...lol.

When people have to keep considering sound protection paraphernalia for T or hyperacusus they are effectively continually reminding themselves of it and the fear which goes with it. It’s all about gradually letting go of that fear. In the early stages, yes, anything which works and gives some relief is good.

The key is to gradually reduce that fear which is driving the fight or flight mode which in turn, makes the T or hyperacusus worse.

I haven’t had to rely on any props for over 5 years now although I still use musicians ear plugs when I am playing, simply because of the exceptionally loud volumes. Out of curiosity are you still using Oasis machines in your house?

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HI asw21

It would be quite a strange world if we were always in agreement with each other. I don't quite understand why you disagree with my article: Hyperacusis, As I see it. I do not advocate the overuse of hearing protection. Properly used they can be helpful and protect one's hearing. I too agree improper use or overuse can instils fear and negative thinking. I have written articles over at Tinnitus talk about this. I and other members that share my view, are often met with an uprising from people that use hearing protection of every discription the moment they leave their home.

Michael

PS: regarding the use of sound machines.

Tinnitus comes in many forms and intensities. My experience is based on 22 years having this condition. I have quite severe tinnitus and it is variable. From complete silence, mild, moderate, severe and extremely severe. I have been prescribed clonazepam, to take when my tinnitus is very severe.

If you don't already know, most Hearing Therapists and Audiologist advise people with tinnitus not to sleep in a quiet room. I assure you it is not a prop, but a very important appliance that will help the brain not to increase its background activity and thus increase the tinnitus, making it more intrusive during waking hours.

If one sleeps in a quiet room and has mild to moderate tinnitus, they risk it becoming worse for reasons I've explained above. Professor Jastreboff, developer or TRT, stresses in his book: Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, someone with tinnitus should avoid quiet rooms during the day and particularly at night by using sound enrichment - sound machine.

In answer to your question. Yes, I continue to use a sound machine for reasons mentioned above.

Michael

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Hi Michael, Yes I agree T comes in many different shapes and forms, but then again so do the ways people deal with it.

I weaned myself off babbling brooks after a few months after building confidence in my brains ability to push it away from my consciousness. As the ‘silent’ periods got longer and longer I decided to just let my imagination take over at night time. I could always focus on the sound of my (or my partners) breathing if need be. We normally drift off to sleep with our imagination anyway.

As I see it, T can be dealt with in stages. however it seems as though some people get stuck. I think the main problem is not being able to let go of everything T related. Some don’t believe they can move on without a magic pill for example. Even T related forums can cause one to over focus on their T.

It’s the same with pain and depression. The more we focus on getting on with life and less we focus on the ailment, the more happy we are, and those around us. The brain does have that ability to adapt, but it takes time and lots of will power.

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HI asw21

As previously mentioned, tinnitus comes in many forms and intensities and no two people experience it the same. Please believe me when I say, I know all about habituating to tinnitus and how to achieve it, for I have done so twice. I also talk to people affected by tinnitus here in the UK and overseas, who are having a difficult time managing it. I have a wide knowledge of the different levels that tinnitus can be experienced since my own varies from: complete silence, mild, moderate, severe and extremely severe.

According to my consultant and Hearing Therapist, my tinnitus is quite unusual and they don't see many patients with such large fluctuations in intensity. My tinnitus changed in 2008, after I had a second noise trauma. It took, 4 years to habituate. However, in 2010 after 2 years of TRT for the 2nd time, I was prescribed clonazepam. It took another 2 years to habituate and my tinnitus is now as mentioned above.

Below you may find an article that I have written on the habituation process informative. If you haven't already read it then please click on the link.

I wish you well and all the best

Michael

healthunlocked.com/bta/post...

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I think the main thing is for us not to superimpose our own experiences onto others. We all have to find our own way in the end. By putting our experiences out there, others can decide whether our approach is suitable or not.

You say your experiences of tinnitus are unusual. I have also spoken to many people over many years about the subject and found that my experiences are very common with others. Many of whom worked it out for themselves with no help from forums or the medical profession. Both our approaches are valid however.

It’s good for people to have different ideas and options. Unfortunately there seems to be a trend on some forums to shut people up when views don’t suit those who are driving it.

I know we are both just trying to help people find a way to reduce the suffering element of T by passing on our individual experiences. So are others here. That’s a good thing I think.

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Hi, I mentioned to my hearing therapist about sound enrichment while you're asleep and she told me there was no real evidence that this worked. I'm confused as nearly everybody on here seems to use sounds overnight. I guess that's just her opinion.

So confusing 😕

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Hi Buddie123.

Your Hearing Therapist has probably never experienced tinnitus, or if she has the condition it is very low and is of this opinion. Professional Pawel Jastreboff, developer of TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy) is the book that all Hearing Therapists and Audiologist, refer to (Read) that want to practice TRT treatment with tinnitus patients.

In the book Professor Jastreboff is adamant that anyone that has tinnitus, which is intrusive, should avoid quiet rooms and surroundings particularly at night - as the brain will over time increase its internal background activity, and doing so will also increase the tinnitus. Using sound enrichment supplies the brain and auditory system with sound and therefore, the brain will not seek out additional sound from the environment.

Please don't be confused your Hearing Therapist is wrong. I have written an article titled: Tinnitus, A Personal View. It is too long for this forum at 13000 words. If you would like a PDF copy, please send me your email address by private message. A number of people have read it on this forum and at it is available at Tinnitus Talk to read.

I have many years experience with tinnitus and counsel people occasionally with it, that choose to contact me by telephone. Tinnitus is a very common condition that comes in many forms and intensities and no two people experience it the same. The majority of people that have it are able to life their life quite normally. Much of them never have to go to ENT for treatment or visit a tinnitus forum for help. The reason being, the tinnitus never reaches severe levels and becomes debilitating.

Unfortunately, people that have relatively mild tinnitus and habituate to it with within 6 months, believe everyone can do the same. Please believe me such people have no idea because they don't know what it's like to endure loud debilitation chronic tinnitus. This is not to say they haven't experienced loud tinnitus. However, what happens in their case, the tinnitus reduces over time to acceptable levels that the brain can comfortably ignore.

Loud severe debilitating tinnitus, whether intermittent or constant with variable fluctuations in intensity can affect a person's quality of life quite profoundly. For this reason people with mild or moderate tinnitus simply do not understand.

All the best

Michael

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Hi Michael

Thanks for your reply. I'll certainly give it a try. My only problem is my hearing is quite bad without my aids, so I'd probably have to have the masking sounds quite loud, so not sure how hubby would feel about this.

Thank you

Ingrid

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You can attach the sound machine to a pillow speaker for privacy. All Oasis sound machines can be connected to a pillow speaker. However, since you have hearing loss, this probably the reason your Hearing Therapist said what she did. Under these circumstances a sound machine many not help you.

Take care

Michael

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Hi Michael, what is the best sounds to play for hyperacusis on sound machine.i see alot of people recommend pink noise,would this be best to play at night?alot of people also say pink noise atleast 2 hours a day to get rid off hyperacusis, would you agree with this.

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HI Michael,

A person can use whatever source of sound enrichment that they like at night time, but it is advisable not to use music, as it can draw the brain's attention. Please read the post below that I wrote at another forum some time ago.

Hope you find it helpful.

All the best

Michael

Anyone with tinnitus particularly if it is intrusive, should avoid silence especially at night. This is mentioned throughout the TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy) book written by Professor Jastreboff. In fact silence is considered to be harmful. The brain and auditory system never switch off. When we are asleep or in quiet surroundings, the brain has the ability to increase its background activity.

In doing so it will also increase the tinnitus making it louder and more intrusive. By using low level sound enrichment, it supplies the brain and auditory system with sound and thus, helps prevent the brain from increasing its own background activity. Over time it the tinnitus is suppressed.

This is particularly evident in people that tinnitus due to hearing loss. When the brain is unable to hear certain sounds/frequencies from the outside environment, it will turn up its internal gain to hear those sounds/frequencies.

In doing so tinnitus can develop and over time become more intrusive. Once a person is fitted with a hearing aid/s, the brain no longer has to work so hard turns down its gain (volume control) and over time, the tinnitus is reduced too.

Sound Machines

I have recently been asked about the benefits of using a sound machine after someone read my post on another thread, please find it below.

Sound Oasis makes the best sound machines in my opinion and they are specifically designed for people with tinnitus although anyone will benefit using one. The quality of their digital sounds will be far superior to any homemade sounds that you compile if your intention is to use them for sound enrichment.

A sound machine can be used night and day but do their magic best when we are in deep sleep.

It supplies the brain and auditory system with sound enrichment. Over time, the tinnitus is pushed further into the background making it less intrusive and will make the path to habituation easier.

I have three Oasis models. The S-650 is very popular and the one I usually recommend people buy. It comes with a variety of sounds on two sound cards. Additional cards can be purchased. The S-850 travel, is more expensive and compact. It has 18 on-board digital sounds and doesn’t use cards.

Some people might be bothered by the clock’s blue backlight at night-time. It dims but cannot be turned completely off; the S650 backlight can be set to switch off automatically.

The S-5000 is the top model. Larger and more sophisticated than the others and can only be mains operated. It uses a three-speaker system, that has a subwoofer for increased depth and definition to the sound. According to Oasis, over 140 on-board sound combinations are possible. It has FM/AM radio and an external sound source can be selected via the auxiliary input.

There are a host of other features.

The purpose of using a sound machine is to have it playing in the background without drawing attention to itself unlike a radio. For this reason, music mustn’t be used at night for sound enrichment, as it will draw the Brain’s attention and delay habituation.

In my opinion and the advice of Professor Jastreboff, developer of TRT. Sound enrichment particularly at night should be used by anyone that has intrusive tinnitus. I would go as far to say, it is imperative to do so if you want to help yourself.

Over time you will get used to having sound around you both during the day and night. I find it strange to be in a very quiet room now having used a sound machine for so long.

Michael

PS: Many people have contacted me after they have habituated to their T and stopped using sound enrichment at night, only to find their tinnitus becoming intrusive again. The rule of thumb: avoid quiet rooms and surroundings especially at night by using a sound machine.

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Thanks Michael for advice, I have caused this mess myself.i slept for over ten years with ear plugs after working night shifts and never letting the wax out.its 3 months now with tinnitus and hyperacusis started 2 weeks after this, so I think I have left my ears sensitive to certain sounds like computer fans,air conditioning,central heating and some car engines,it is bad but I keep telling myself it could be worse and atleast with hyperacusis I might get better.

Thanks Michael

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Thank you I'll give it a try anyway. Seriously panicking that after having this for 37 years (coping well for most of the time) that this is how it's going to be from now on. I know habituation is possible as I've done it 5 times before, but at the moment my brain will just not let go of the sound 😢

Ingrid xx

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Hi Michael, hyperacusis is not easy to cope with but I discovered a very simple way of overcoming my sensitivity to the noise and gives me 7 to 8 good hours of sleep a night . I learned that my 'Oasis sound generator' whilst useful for Tinnitus spikes with miniature pillow speakers could be adapted for Hyperacusis by simply plugging two medium loud speakers into the jack points of the generator. Next place the speakers and unit in the direction of the external noise, in my case next to my bedroom window with the speakers placed well apart from each other. Turn up the volume and step back, you will find the generator noise replacing the Hyperacusis sound completely. I may add that this does not work with the pillow speakers. I did not expect this experiment to work for me but I was haunted by by the awful drone in my head, particularly overnight .

You can by the Oasis generator through the Tinnitus Association but you will have to buy the speakers separately so take the main unit out with you to make sure the jack fits the speakers.

As I said I like you was desparate to get relief and when I did it felt like a miracle to me. I listen to white noise setting every night and if I need it during the day it works just as well.

I'm thinking about going down the NHS route to cure myself completely of Hyperacusis but it can take several years from start to finish.

Meanwhile, I have slowly found I am Habituating from the noise as my fear of it is down from 10 to 2 thanks to my the generator and speakers.

Imagine being able to shut the noise off and drifting off to sleep and waking up 8 hours later !

If you need any more advice let me know please. I am happy to help you because I know this works, nothing else will give you instant relief.

Best wishes.

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Hi,this is awful tinnitus and hyperacusis. What sort of noises caused you the most trouble? Mine seem to be mostly electrical and brakes of cars. At the moment hyperacusis is worse than tinnitus for me.have you noticed dramatic improvements since doing this?I get a awful hum and loudness of things like fridges and air cons.

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Hello Michael ! I get howling or drone type noise from air conditioning units near my home. And yes I get a persistent siren noise from electrical appliances but worst of all is a drone from gas central heating from my neighbours systems in the winter.

As I have stated I can mask all these noises with my sound generator to such an extent I can lead a normal life despite my hyperacusis and Tinnitus.

I do have ear popping if I'm on a train and some noises like grinding irk me from time to time. Some people with hyperacusis describe it as "superheating " and I remember walking down a busy High Street in the Scottish borders full of lorries and cars and different sounds and could hear a sparrow twittering on a rooftop over everything else, I found this stunning and upsetting at the same time,as though I was reprogramming on a different frequency to everyone else.

I have learned to live with both Hyperacusis as well as Tinnitus and using a sound generator to mask Hyperacusis has increased my life quality no end.The first few weeks of Hyperacusis were Hell.

Anyway thanks for your post, I do recommend you purchase "the Oasis sound generator " from "the Tinnitus Association" and medium size speakers to fit the jack port of the generator.For around £130 you can block Hyperacusis and at least get some good sleep time.

It sounds to me as though your ok at home and your Hyperacusis I'd not of the persistent type. I might be wrong though? Off to sleep now.

Best wishes.

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Hi starshine53, Thanks for the reply and advice.yes I get that droning noise as well from central heating.certain cars have that noise aswel.birds aswel are very noisy,it's just certain frequencys because the washing machine I have no problem at all.i might try a private clinic shortly if this dos'nt get any better, they do a hyperacusis desensitisation therapy but the cost is £2400.i would try anything.

Thanks

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hi Michael - late to the thread, as I've been on leave but have you checked out tinnitus.org.uk/hyperacusis? There's also useful information on the Hyperacusis Network website too.

Best wishes

Nic

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My other half had such bad H he wouldn’t leave the house and when I was doing anything like cooking or washing up he would have to leave the room. He went to the tinnitus clinic in London for treatment and although 6 months later his T is still bad and he has spikes sometimes, his H is so much better than it was. They use noise generating clip on in ears (look like hearing aids) during the day and a headband headphone at night with an app. The aids are programmed with a noise specific to him and they gave him instructions to cycle through different noise generators on the app at night. It was pretty expensive for a year or so worth of treatment plan but we’ve been told that St. George’s hospital in Tooting has a tinnitus specialist who should be able to continue his treatment on the nhs. Definitely worth asking your gp for a referral as I have seen how debilitating it can be.

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Hi, thanks for reply. Yes I seen private clinics advertising hyperacusis desensitisation package and they are very expensive.the price I seen was £2500 for basic package.it is a terrible condition and I think mine is slowly getting worse, I can even hear my own voice echoing but I have been told in time this will get better.did your husband see much improvements with the treatment?

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