Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of external stimuli meaning a person affected by tinnitus hears sounds no one else does. The sounds vary greatly from; whistling, hissing, ringing, buzzing and even a roaring. It can be cicadas, crickets, jet engines, sirens, drums or even like a distant radio playing. Tinnitus can come and go or be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For a peek at what tinnitus sounds like, click on this link. Those who have tinnitus might not hear the computer sounds but those who have good hearing will be surprised by the intensity of it.
Millions of people are affected by tinnitus and there is no known cure. Some of the causes of tinnitus are: noise induced (many of our veterans, concerts and MP3 players with earbuds), conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, ototoxic drugs, Meniere’s disease, auto immune diseases, TMJ, head injuries, and more. Doctors don’t know what to do and too often tell those seeking help, “There’s nothing we can do about it. Learn to live with it,” and offer no suggestions.
Live with it? Live with it how?
Tinnitus is all invasive; a constant and unwanted companion. There are sleepless nights with no peace and long days. Not even exhaustion assures a good night sleep the following nights. Too many nights of no sleep leaves a person addled, irritated and desperate. Depression is not uncommon. (Antidepressants can help.) So do we learn to live with it?
Twenty years ago, habituate was the keyword; to change the behavior towards tinnitus… not an easy task and it takes time. In the meantime, how can a person get some sleep with all that racket inside their head? Soft music helps a lot. Turning on a fan or a water feature can lessen the impact of tinnitus also. Peaceful nights are best but having some noise helps override the tinnitus. The more pleasant the noise, the easier it is to focus on it than the ringing.
Fortunately there are more treatments available today than ever.
- Tinnitus specialists are scattered over the United States, the American Tinnitus Association has a list here.
- Diet can agitate tinnitus so try avoiding caffeine, sugar, salt and alcohol. Smoking could have something to do with it as well as medications (link to ototoxic medications at bottom).
- Becoming over tired can make tinnitus worse. To avoid screaming tinnitus, make sure you get plenty of rest.
- There are tinnitus applications for smart phones, some are free and others have a small cost. Just to name a few: Sleep Stream 2, Tinnitus Relief, Tinnitus Pro and Simply Noise. My personal favorite is Sleep Stream 2, I use this program for stress relief as well as tinnitus.
- Hearing aids help drown out tinnitus. Other experimental therapies out there for tinnitus are: biofeedback, cognitive therapy, sound therapy and TMJ treatment.
For 25 years now, I’ve dealt with tinnitus. I hear cicadas, crickets and a high pitched squeal all the time. Other sounds pop in now and then like a bird chirping and a low tone. After a few years, I made friends with my tinnitus as crazy as it sounds. I hear it always but it doesn’t bother me so much anymore. Tinnitus may feel like the end of the world but don’t give up. With time, it gets easier to handle. Be a surviver.
For those who have tinnitus, how have you dealt with it?
A list of Ototoxic drugs
Some Famous People With Tinnitus