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Tinnitus tips

On November 23, I developed mild tinnitus. I’ve been hearing a constant sound in my head. The sound is a mid-pitched whistle or whine similar to what you hear through the wall when your neighbor is vacuuming. The principal frequency seems to be about 1.1 kHz. Here’s the closest I could get when trying to generate the sound in my tone generator.

The volume is not high – the sound is overpowered by the refrigerator in my kitchen, the sound of water flowing in the pipes in the bathroom. I can often hear it over my PC (several very quiet fans + quiet 7200 rpm hard drive) or during a conversation in a quiet room when nobody is talking.

As I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking about tinnitus, I want to share some tips that helped me get over the initial shock and go back to living normally. Much of the advice in this FAQ is based on what I’ve read about Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), the leading clinically proven tinnitus treatment.

What causes tinnitus?

Sometimes tinnitus is a side-effect of taking certain drugs, or of another condition, such as earwax buildup, ear infection, hypertension or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Most commonly, tinnitus is experienced after exposure to loud noise. The basic mechanism seems to be that noise knocks out some of your hair cells (temporarily or permanently). This shuts off the signal to auditory neurons in your brain, causing them to go haywire. As with most brain-related things, the details of how this happens are poorly understood.

Tinnitus caused by exposure to loud noise usually goes away in a few days. However, it could also become a long-term problem. Long-term tinnitus is associated with hearing loss. Between 60 and 90% (depending on the source) of tinnitus patients have some degree of hearing loss. This is, however, not a true explanation of tinnitus, because the majority of hearing-impaired people don’t have tinnitus, and a significant percentage of tinnitus patients have normal hearing (especially among younger people).

Here’s a good overview of possible tinnitus causes from the American Tinnitus Association.

When will my tinnitus go away?

If you were recently exposed to loud noise (for example, you went to a concert), you may just have temporary tinnitus that will go away in a few days. (By the way, if you have acute noise-induced hearing loss, it may be a good idea to rush to an ENT and ask for immediate steroid therapy to prevent permanent hearing damage.)

In many other cases, tinnitus goes away on its own within 2-3 months. In still others, it takes 2-3 years. On the other hand, there are people who have had tinnitus for over 20 years. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any reliable statistics that would show what percentage of cases resolve within a few months. The best I could find was this informal survey.

What can I do about my tinnitus?

You can go to a doctor in case your tinnitus is due to something that can be fixed or treated easily.

You can try one or more remedies recommended by tinnitus patients – vitamin B12, magnesium, ginkgo biloba, caffeine withdrawal and paracetamol – for each of these, you will find people who swear it reduces their tinnitus. And you can certainly avoid wasting your money on the countless “tinnitus cure” scams ran by unscrupulous assholes all over the Web.

Other than that, there is currently no proven method of rewiring your brain to make tinnitus disappear completely and permanently. There are therapies that can lessen tinnitus or even make it disappear (e.g. notched music therapy), but their effect is temporary, i.e. they must be continued indefinitely if the effect is to be maintained.

However, you can do two very important things:

  1. You can stop the noise from bothering you.
  2. You can learn not to notice the noise.

If you achieve these two goals, tinnitus will be no more of a problem for you than the color of the walls in your apartment. It will still be noticeable, if you choose to notice it, but it will not be an issue.

Dr Stephen M. Nagler described this beautifully in his introduction to Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (the page I’m quoting is no longer available online; here’s the closest I could find):

TRT is not a cure for tinnitus.  It is a treatment approach designed with the goal of tinnitus ceasing to be an issue in the patient’s life.  It is designed with the goal of making tinnitus into a pair of pants.  Ninety percent of the time, people are unaware of their pants.  The 10% of the time they are aware, they do not “cope” with their pants, they do not “deal” with their pants, they do not “learn to live” with their pants, and they most certainly do not spend any time worrying whether the following day will be a “good pants day” or a “bad pants day.”  They simply wear their pants; and when the goal of TRT has been met, tinnitus should be just like that!

How do I stop the noise from bothering me?

The first thing you must realize is that the sound itself is not that much of a problem. Unless your tinnitus is uncommonly severe, the noise in your head probably does not interfere with your hearing in a significant way.

The real problem is that (1) you are paying attention to the noise and (2) you are reacting to it in an emotional way. In neurological terms, the auditory stimulus leads to a stress response. You find the sound disturbing, you can’t think about anything else, your heart is racing, you can’t fall asleep at night – all these problems are not due to tinnitus; they are due to your emotional reaction to tinnitus.

Does it have to be this way? No. You are probably surrounded by many sounds that are objectively louder than your tinnitus, yet you don’t give them a second thought. Every day, you sit in front of a computer that has noisy fans and hard drives, but you don’t obsess over it. While driving, you’re exposed to the sound of traffic and your own car, sometimes for hours, but that does not make you miserable. Airline pilots spend half their lives in the noise of jet engines, but they don’t make a big deal out of it. The only difference between tinnitus and those “everyday sounds” is that you interpret those other sounds as “normal background noise”.

As I sit in front of my computer writing this post, I am surrounded by potentially annoying stimuli. I hear the drone of the washing machine that’s running in the bathroom, the whirr of the hard drives in my computer, and some sounds of traffic outside the window. I am wearing eyeglasses that put constant pressure on my nose and ears; worse still, their rims impose themselves on my field of vision, putting a useless blurry border around whatever I’m looking at. To the right of my screen, there is a network router with bright LEDs blinking at irregular intervals. And whenever I move in my chair, it makes a fairly loud squeak. All of these things can be seen as irritating, yet none of them bothers me in the least bit.

There is no objective reason why I should be completely indifferent to all these stimuli, yet be disturbed by tinnitus. After all, tinnitus is just another sound I can’t do anything about.

Your emotional reaction to tinnitus is a matter of attitude. And attitudes to stimuli can change. I remember very clearly that I used to be annoyed by the ticking of the wall clock in my room, to the point that I had to take it down. Guess what? I recently hung it again and now I kind of like it. To take another example, there are people who are annoyed by the noise made by children playing in the playground. Often, the same people will find it much less annoying (or even pleasant) once they have their own children and begin to associate the sound with something pleasant.

It is helpful to realize that most of your negative attitude to tinnitus comes from the initial shock. If you had been born with tinnitus, would you worry about it? Certainly not. For you, it would be the way the world works – much like the fact that you have to blink every 20 seconds or so. Some people who have had tinnitus since childhood are indifferent to it to the point that they believe it is completely normal.

Finally, here are some positive thinking tricks to “make friends” with your tinnitus:

  • think of it as the “dial tone of the universe” (not everyone can hear it, you’re among the chosen ones!)
  • think of it as a noise that your brain makes when it’s working (it’s good to know your brain is working, isn’t it?)
  • think “my invisible force field is on and is protecting me” (this one was suggested by Thomas Tang in the comments here, I think it’s great)

What is partial masking?

Partial masking is a good technique that can help you stop reacting emotionally to tinnitus. Surround yourself with some sort of noise that blends with the sound of tinnitus without obscuring it completely. Good sources of noise include computer-generated noise, recordings with sounds of nature (rain, ocean, mountain stream, etc.), fans, radio static, air humidifiers, etc. There is a good free online noise generator over at myNoise.net. Remember that if your goal is to reduce your emotional response to tinnitus, the tinnitus should still be partially audible over the masking noise. The reason is that you cannot get used to something you don’t hear. You can then gradually decrease the volume of the masking noise until your tinnitus becomes as boring and unworthy of attention as the buzz of the refrigerator in your kitchen.

Does tinnitus deprive you of silence?

Among tinnitus patients, there is a tendency to think “I will never hear silence again”, but it is worth noting that humans are incapable of hearing complete silence anyway. In a well-known study by Heller and Bergman (1953), out of 100 tinnitus-free university students placed in an anechoic chamber, 93% reported hearing a buzzing, pulsing or whistling sound.

How do I learn not to notice the noise?

At the core of tinnitus is The Loop. The Loop is my own term for the positive feedback loop created by the following two mechanisms:

  1. The more attention you give to your tinnitus, the louder it gets. (What happens is, you are telling your brain “This sound is important/threatening, I need to hear it more clearly”.)
  2. The louder your tinnitus is, the more it attracts your attention, which in turn makes it even louder, and so on.

This is a vicious circle that can be extremely hard to break out of. In the first few days after my tinnitus appeared, I gave it so much of my attention that eventually I could hear it even while watching TV.

The loop starts when you focus your attention on the noise. Once you let yourself do that, the noise will get louder, making it much harder to get your mind off it. So Rule Number One is: don’t start The Loop. Whenever you find your attention wandering towards the noise, use your will to immediately focus on something else. Get busy. Slap yourself on the face. If you’re trying to fall asleep, try counting. Remember how miserable you felt the last time you let yourself focus on the noise. Do whatever it takes to take your mind off the tinnitus. If all else fails, mask it with music or some noise. Use the “Reddit maneuver” for short-term relief. But whatever you do, don’t start The Loop.

Learning to take your attention away from tinnitus takes training. One technique that helps with this is having a loud ticking clock in your room. The moment your attention wanders towards the tinnitus, focus on the tick-tock instead. Counting tick-tocks is also a good way to fall asleep.

Tinnitus gets louder when you are anxious about it, so anything that reduces your overall anxiety level is helpful. There are drugs that are known to help, but exercise works great, too. If you make yourself feel so tired that you can barely move, it’s really hard to think about tinnitus – when your body is aching, all you can think of is how good it feels to lie down and rest. I would also recommend experimenting with cold showers or cold baths. In general, anything that causes (safe) pain is good because once the pain is gone, you experience the opposite feeling: bliss, warmth, energy.

Note: an earlier version of this post mentioned Xanax as a possible remedy for tinnitus-related anxiety. However, Xanax (and other benzodiazepines) produce dependence and can be very difficult to quit. If I were to take the medication route, I’d look into other anxiolytic drugs first.

If you haven’t heard your tinnitus for some time, don’t listen for it. Don’t ask yourself: “Do I hear the noise now?” or “Has it really gone away or is it just temporarily masked by ambient noise?”. In the first weeks after I got tinnitus, whenever it stopped being noticeable, I would go to a quiet room and put on my isolating headphones to see if it really went away. I did this many times a day and all it did was make me notice my tinnitus again. In the end, I had to set a rule: I am allowed one “tinnitus test” per day, when I get up in the morning. For the rest of the day, no checking.

Remember: If you listen for tinnitus, you are just training your brain to hear it better. Don’t do it. Focus on other things in your surroundings and your life.

What if I’m already in The Loop?

Ah, yes. When you’re in The Loop, your tinnitus seems so loud that it’s like a tiger in your room – it seems damn near impossible not to pay attention to it. In addition, the stress you are probably experiencing does not make it any easier to exercise mental control.

Still, you have to help yourself. You have to get out of The Loop somehow. Here’s a method that worked for me: Mask the hell out of it and go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, use every ounce of self-control you have to focus your attention on things other than the tinnitus. Keep telling yourself: if I let myself focus on it, it will just get bigger and even harder to ignore. Whenever your thoughts start wandering toward the tinnitus, slap yourself on the face or pinch the back of your forearm (this serves as negative reinforcement). The goal is to develop a mental habit to distract yourself every time you start thinking about your tinnitus. As time passes, it will get easier and easier to distract yourself when tinnitus becomes noticeable.

It can be hard to keep this up for the whole day, especially in the beginning, so use masking liberally. (Full masking is not recommended in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy because it removes the noise completely rather than letting you get comfortable with it, but my experience is that when you’re going crazy from listening to your tinnitus, masking it partially doesn’t make you any calmer. There are times when you need emergency measures.)

When you cannot help but pay attention to your tinnitus and it’s beginning to stress you out, you can try the following mental technique that I’ve found very effective. I call it the Refrigerator Trick. The trick is to imagine that the sound of tinnitus is made by an actual device in the room, perhaps a small refrigerator. It’s amazing that simply having that thought brings about instant stress relief. As soon as the sound is associated with an everyday object, it seems the brain no longer has any reason for alarm. Once the tinnitus is classified as an “everyday noise”, it is much easier to take your mind off it. To make this visualization more convincing, you can picture what the refrigerator looks like, where it’s standing, etc.

Useful resources on tinnitus

  • Dr. Nagler’s Tinnitus Site – a very well-written site with tinnitus information and support, by Dr Stephen Nagler, who is a tinnitus patient himself. His advice is based on Pawel Jastreboff’s Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) model. Make sure to check out the Articles section.
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) page by Pawel Jastreboff. TRT “uses a combination of low level, broad-band noise and counseling to achieve the habituation of tinnitus, that is the patient is no longer aware of their tinnitus, except when they focus their attention on it, and even then tinnitus is not annoying or bothersome”.
  • Tinnitus Support Message Board – the largest and best forum for tinnitus patients
  • Tinnitus success stories from real people
  • myNoise.net – a free online noise generator
  • Plasticity – I made a free brain training game that may change your perception of tinnitus – see below

Update (Sep 2011)

I still have tinnitus, but have become indifferent to it to a degree I would never have thought possible. Basically, now it’s like the sound of the hard drive in my laptop. Sure, I notice it sometimes, but I don’t focus on it; I just go back to whatever I was doing. I’m certainly not sitting there writing an e-mail on my laptop and thinking “OMG, here’s the damn hard drive noise again, why won’t it stop?”. Needless to say, I don’t check the intensity of my tinnitus every day anymore. In fact, I’ve gone weeks without noticing it.

I used to be scared of going to sleep without masking sounds, as the silence at night brings the tinnitus out. Now it’s no big deal: I don’t pay attention to it, and on the rare occasion that I do, it doesn’t bother me; it’s just “that familiar sound” to me.

Update  – Plasticity (Aug 2012)

In April 2011, I wrote an HTML5 game called Plasticity with the objective of rewiring my auditory cortex and thus reducing my tinnitus. The idea was simple:

  1. Some neurons are firing in my auditory cortex (since I hear the tinnitus).
  2. The cortex can reorganize in response to training.
  3. Conclusion: I’m going to train my auditory cortex and see how that changes the perception of tinnitus.

Did it work? It’s hard to say. I was of course hoping for a dramatic, unmistakable result – a total cure. That didn’t happen. I thought I noticed some improvement in the course of my training, but that could have easily been simple placebo effect. After a month of using Plasticity every day, I went on a short foreign trip. During that trip, I noticed that I was able to fall asleep without masking noise for the first time since I got tinnitus. When I got back home, I decided to stop using masking at home as well. I also stopped using Plasticity. In the following months, my tinnitus gradually became a non-issue for me. I would still hear it, but only if I tried to. It would no longer hijack my whole brain. Since the auditory training was effective (I did get better at recognizing sounds, as evidenced by better scores), I think it’s possible that the training somehow changed my brain’s neurological response to tinnitus. I wouldn’t bet money on it, though.

Anyway, I have now made Plasticity available to everyone on the Web, so you are free to try it if you wish. (Here’s some more information on the scientific justification and tips on how to use Plasticity.) It’s totally unproven, but, unlike the countless fake cures on the Internet, it’s also totally free (though I’d be really grateful for your donations if you can afford to spare some money).

Update – (Sep 2013)

Well, OK. The bad news is that my tinnitus got worse. The good news is that it didn’t really upset me. It only bothered me a bit for 2-3 days, then I quickly forgot about it.

How did it get worse? Well, there was a loud concert that I went to with a friend. My friend wanted to get closer to the stage, and, like an idiot, I followed her, even though the music was already uncomfortably loud where I was standing. In other words, there was a red light but I ignored it. Needless to say, I won’t be attending any loud concerts anytime soon. Which is fine with me, I’m more of a home listener anyway.

The concert left me with a threshold shift (reduced hearing) and a whistling sound in my left ear that persisted for about 3 days. My hearing came back to normal (for a while I was worried that it would stay that way), but the whistling never went away. It is much louder than the tinnitus I have in my right ear.

Now I am 90% sure that my original tinnitus was caused by noise as well (another super-loud concert). So here’s a public service announcement: If you have tinnitus, avoid loud noises, such as concerts in enclosed spaces like clubs.

How did I get over it? Same as before, only 100 times faster. (I’m getting good at this!) I used a bit of masking, Plasticity, plus exercise to relax, but mostly it was just the familiar “don’t let yourself think about it” technique. Initially, I felt pretty bad – mainly because I hated myself for making such a stupid mistake and because I was afraid my hearing would be permanently impaired. After a couple days, though, I started paying less and less attention to it, and now I don’t think about it as an issue anymore. Actually, I am quite proud of how quickly I stopped caring about it.

Good luck! Remember to post your comments here.

451 Comments so far

  • Tom Schultz

    Rick,
    Sounds like we went down the same road for sure! I blame a lot of my problem on Bob Seger and Rod Stewart. My job required a lot of travel on the road and they were a lot of company. Too much I’m afraid. Like you when I wasn’t in the car I far too often had earphones in my ear and the volumn up loud. The result, “Severe high frequency hearing loss”. I know the diagnosis is correct as before I purchased my hearing aids I saw three different audiologists and you could lay the results of each test over each other and they were practically identical. You’re right, I’m trying to stay busy and focus on other things. Recently joined the Y and spent about two hours there a few days ago and never once thought about my tinnitus. It’s up to us to deal with the problem as I saw three different ENTs and none offered any hope other than “you have to learn to live with it.” I will take your advise and try and stay busy. I’m determined to not let this get me down.

    Tom

  • Jesse

    Hi
    Thanks for great tips. I`ve had T for years but It got worse lately, and my life went down the drain. But after I read your tips I feel I can overcome this battle again. I think your tips are soo good you schould write a book:) thanks, Jesse

  • Greg

    Wow great work on this site.. I woke up three days ago with the loud sound of a Florida Cicada bug sound in my ear. First day thought I would go crazy, today after finding this site, I feel much better. The cicada is a sound I hear each summer and kinda like, so I try my best to just think that the sound is just those summer cicada bugs, even though it’s full winter here in Florida. Thanks! Greg

  • Matt

    This has slightly increased my confidence, I’ve had tinnitus for around 5 years now and I’m only 14. It’s a lot louder in my left ear and is mentally distressing, the tinnitus came from ETD. Which is a terrible condition that I received after a horrible ear infection in my left ear.

    I still have ETD to this very day and it doesn’t bother me very much but I just want to know how fluid behind the ears could cause such a horrible ringing noise! I think ETD has done some sought of damage to my ear that really just depresses me.

  • Starla

    Great article and great responses. I’ve had tinnitus for 6+ years and for the most part, it doesn’t interfere with my life at all. Mine is of the high pitched “ringing” (that is the closest sound that I can use to describe it) variety and it is 24/7. It definitely gets louder when I am tired (I can actually use it to let me know when I need to get some sleep!) and is present in the morning as well – until I am fully alert and on to my day. I found this blog because this past week it has become very loud and persistent – I am assuming that this has to do with me having been ill with the flu/cold during that time.

    As a long time survivor 🙂 of this condition, I can tell you that yes, sleep (or lack thereof) directly effects it, paying attention to it will cause it to amplify and you can live happily with tinnitus!

    I am sure that I have some degree of high frequency hearing loss (I haven’t had it checked in ages) as I am 54 and grew up listening to loud rock music as many others here have. But, other than that I am a very healthy person – age just happens. That said, I know this is not the cause of my tinnitus and I am going to share how mine started in case it may help someone else. Over 6 years ago I was in a deep depression due to a divorce and made a poor choice to overdose on Xanax. I woke up from this and drove myself to the hospital to get checked out (or in my case, checked in). It was after this event that I began to experience tinnitus and it has been with me every day since then.

    Sure it can be annoying at times (like now as I mentioned), but I have come a long way from the place I was in 6+ years ago and I have also just accepted this constant “sound” as part of who I am now. There are days that pass without me even noticing it, although I “know” it is still there. Basically, it is like “oh, there it is again” and I either go to sleep or just continue on and it subsides into my not conscious awareness.

    I would be very interested in any homeopathic remedies that people know of that have proven successful. I can, and will happily, live forever with this condition, but I also wouldn’t say no to a “cure”!

    I would also love to hear an mp3 of my sound…I have yet to find one.

    Namaste,
    Starla

    • Matt

      Your response was wonderful, Starla. The place you’ve gotten sets a realistic goal for many people with this.

      The connection between stress and tinnitus seems to be attracting more research. This March 2012 study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328238/) suggests a link, and is worth a read. It says: “Long-term stress exposure and its deleterious effects therefore constitute an important predisposing factor for, or a significant pathological consequence of, this debilitating hearing disorder.”

  • Abbe Levine

    A friend was going through a difficulty time + she said what helped her is blogging..hence I found this sight.
    I have had tinnitus for approximately 16 years + after suffering greatly I did the TRT about 8 years ago. I did learn to live with it + have been fine. As many people mentioned you adapt, excercise, and mask the sound.
    But recently the sounds became quite loud again…I had tremendous stress + lack of sleep. The stress factor was eliminated (work related) but the sounds have continued. I have been back to my audiologist + she confirmed this is stress related. Also getting support from a Naturopath + chiropractor but the reality is I have to take a few steps back and learn how to cope again. I got off course. I have put the maskers back into my ears because all I do is focus on the sounds! I love the fact that it was mentioned to only check 1x a day! Brilliant suggestion + one I will attempt.
    I am encouraged that I will eventually be back to where I was before this onset, this is from all of the encouraging words I have read today.
    I want to add that my tinnitus came without a clue…but my advice to all is to protect your ears, always.

  • KH

    Thanks for a great site, and Thomasz – thanks for your post on Dec. 13 where you say that if it hasn’t been going on for long, it is probably a passing thing – this has given me some relief (time will tell if it was fake relief or not)

    My story – i woke up 15 days ago, and heard a high-pitched ringing in my head. I knew immediately what is was, but thought that it would just pass

    I saw my own doctor after 6 days, who cleansed my ears as i had some wax. He then referred me to a ENT. After he removed my wax, i felt that i heard things louder – and the sounds at my work (work in an office with 10 people) seemed to bother me – especially high pitched sounds.

    As i am too much of a worrier, i looked up far to many articles – which only made me feel worse as i then feared i would have Menieres or that it would never stop. I then noticed slight dizzyness, nausea and a general loss of hunger – i didnt feel hungry at any time and had to force food into me.

    ENT saw me on day 9 – nothing wrong with my hearing or ears, and no sign of menieres or other stuff. He said it was probably a passing virus, and that it would take off over time. I asked a loot a questions, and maybe he got a bit annoyed with me as he at one point said “you’ll have to learn to live with it”

    I had called various ENT’s – and prior to making the arrangement for day 9, i had also arranged to see another ENT. I went to see him today – and the results were the same – He also thought it would dissapear and that 15 days really wasn’t a long time. I have also had a cold for 4-5 days, which he said could also have an effect. I have developed a minor headache, but he didnt think it had to do with the “T”

    I have no trouble falling asleap at night – but have woken up 3-5 times at night, having difficulty to fall back to sleep. I always try to fall asleap for an hour or so, before using some static sounds (i use a white noise i have found on youtube) because i fear that i will then grow to not being able to fall asleap without masking.

    I can now cope with the office sounds a bit better – some high pitched sounds still bother me.

    I previously went to Spinning classes 3-4 times a week where the music is loud, but only for a hour, and still quite lower than in a night club/concert setting – i do however fear going there now as im afraid it affects my “T” – even with earplugs. I did go on day 13 which made me feel good – but on day 14 my “T” seemed higher.

    At work my mood was normally very good – but the last 10 days it has been up and down. I try to be in good mood, but its difficult – probably because i focus to much on the “T”

    Im going on a 14 day trip overseas in 9 day – hopefully this will help me to think of other things.

    Once again thanks for a great site – and your guides have allready cheered me up a little.
    (sorry for the long post)

  • James Weeks

    I’m so glad I came across your post. I thought i was losing my mind, but I’ve been hearing a sound in my head now that sounds like a hard drive with a flanger on it. Or a bathroom with an echo and a toilet that runs off and on again. It’s just relieving to know there’s at least one other out there.

  • Peter Hallam

    I must admit I am yet to read all of your post BUT … I have noticed my Tinitius is worse with exposure to Microwaves – ie: Wireless, mobiles, DECT phones- anything that emits Pulsed Microwave Radiation.

    I have had a friend comment when they stayed over (slept for a few weeks) that their tinitius is much worse in the city than in the country side (where my friend resides). He has very poor mobile coverage and no wireless internet / home network to speak of, so I concluded that he isn’t usually exposed to much RF.

    I have since purchased a 200Mhz – 8.5Ghz radiation meter to follow up on this.

    I just thought I would share this before reading the rest of your article. (I don’t know why, I just got a bee in my bonnet about it).

    Now, back to read your post …

    • Tiffany

      Hi there,
      I must say your blog made me feel more positive about this whole situation. I only developed tinnitus 4 days ago due to loud music exposure. I barely go clubbing and well this time I left with more than a hangover. Though I didn’t notice the ringing until about 12 hours later, which I do find strange.
      I’m 19 and really don’t want to be stuck with this for the rest of my life.

      I went to the doctor twice in the past 4 days. My last doctor coincidently suffered with tinnitus for about 3 weeks and it went away. I find relief in knowing that it can go away for some. He told me it should go away in a few weeks, as it was only one night! Fingers crossed right.

      Anyway your blog opened my eyes and I found it quite calming. Thank you 🙂

      Live with no regrets!

      • Jamie

        Hi Tiffany,

        I am currently in a very similar situation to you, being 19 and having developed tinnitus after a night out clubbing, something I don’t do very often. I would be really interested and would find it very helpful to hear how you are coping with it now, or indeed whether it has gone away at all?

  • Laura

    I’m not too sure if I have tinnitus because this is only my first night of hearing this noise. I’m probably just self diagnosing as most googlers do. I had a bit of a panic attack thinking i was hearing things but then read up on it and feeling alot more calm now. I do have an extremely blocked ear and I do wear hearing aids, but right now I am laying in bed and it is 6am im usually asleep by now. The thumping started at around 4am. I am extremely tired and unable to fall asleep. But I’m going to try and listen to music or count and see how it goes. Hopefully this is temporary due to my build up of wax and nothing too serious. I do like my sleep and silence. if anyone has anything positive to say or any tips please reply it would really help and put me at ease. If this keeps happening I’ll definitely see my doctor.

    • Tomasz

      “Thumping” doesn’t sound like tinnitus at all. I’d say your ear is blocked and you’re simply hearing your pulse. Try irrigating your ear canal with a large syringe filled with lukewarm water.

      • Laura

        Thankyou heaps 🙂 that’s what i was thinking I just needed to hear from someone else. I’ll go doctors ASAP to get my ears unblocked. Thanks for your response!

  • tommy

    Can I ask how you a finding your tinnitus now? I am just at the end of my second month with tinnitus…. I still get anxious about it and the whole “I have got this for the rest of my life” but each day week gets a tiny bit easier than first two! Thanks again!

    • Tomasz

      I only notice it once in a few weeks (usually when I’m sick or tired, or when my ear is blocked), and even if I do, it’s no big deal. Don’t think about “the rest of your life” – focus on today. A wise man once said “Don’t worry about it twice”. Let “tomorrow’s you” worry about tomorrow’s tinnitus. Today you have only “today’s tinnitus” to deal with.

  • tommy

    thats great news… and pleased you are doing so well… so would you say it hasn’t affected the quality of your life at all?

    • Tomasz

      It doesn’t affect me at all anymore. I worry about other things, of course, just not my tinnitus. 🙂

      • Rick

        This forum is so helpful to tinnitus sufferers. It’s one of those conditions that only a fellow sufferer understands. I’ve had my tinnitus for approx. 9 months now and 99% of the time I’m living my life unaware of the “crickets”. Every so often, usually when I’m reading, I’ll be aware of it but even then it’s just part of me now. Time really does help a lot!

  • MR

    I wonder when I will reach that point. 4 months in it and still aware of this sound 24/7, worst in the morning but present during a day – low volume , high tone hiss. Wish I can forget about this sound, trying my best but still react kind of negative to it.

  • YoungOldster

    I’m 41 and have had tinnitus over a year. I just woke up with it April 17, 2012. Night and day does not go far enough to say how much better life is now vs. then! In the beginning, I couldn’t think of anything but the ringing. It consumed me. I felt trapped, claustrophobic, miserable, couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know if I could go on. It took time but I adjusted. I started exercising, lost weight, and used medicine for a while (Xanax, mostly, and some sleeping medicine). What really helped were the relaxation techniques I learned online and by going to a hypnotherapist. I was able to stop using the medicine and go to sleep on my own. If I woke up at night, I would go through the relaxation techniques again and go back to sleep (basically telling each part of my body to relax starting at my feet and working up, sounds so goofy but I promise it works). I got to the point where I could hear the ringing, but it didn’t bother me, AT ALL! ZERO! I never thought that was possible. Then, believe it or not, I think it went away for quite a while. And then it came back! And I had to readjust. But I don’t want to give anything but hope. THINGS GET SO MUCH BETTER! SO MUCH BETTER!!! Have hope! HOPE!!!

  • loraottawacanada

    I had an inner ear infection diagnosed on April 10 2013. Was given BIAXIN (poison). On the 17th of April 2013 tinnitus started. I am a mess. My GP gave me Ativan for 5 nights and I could cope with it during the day. Went to ENT had 2 hearing tests in 3 weeks…my hearing is perfect…it is NOT my ears therefore he cant help me! Can you believe that! He told me to take 5mg of Melatonin before bedtime. I felt awful the next day…groggy almost all day!!!! Tried nothing last night….I think I slept for 45 minutes the whole night. I was doing breathing techniques…at one point the tinnitus subsided but coult NOT get back to sleep. My nerves are shot. In 3 weeks I have become a complete disaster. I need help.

    • YoungOldster

      It gets better; so much better! I remember my ENT telling me the same thing, even getting mad at me. He said, “It’s like a pair of shoes, you don’t think about wearing shoes most of the time and they don’t bother you.” I didn’t want to hear that. I needed help and hope. THERE IS HOPE! I don’t mean to diminish your suffering, I know it’s real. For me, exercise during the day really helped me. I missed a lot of work at first because I could not sleep, so I exercised (walking which turned to jogging).The first week, I couldn’t drive 5 miles without almost falling asleep. I only share that to say that now I don’t think about it. It’s hard at first and takes a little time but have hope. It will, absolutely, positively get better. Turn to your family and friends for support. Turn to prayer if you believe in God (I feel it helped me). See a speech and hearing specialist. There are hearing aid type devices that are designed to help you adjust to it. There are options and there is hope. Soon enough, you will be encouraging others who are new to tinnitus.

      • loraottawacanada

        Thanks for your reply. It helps a lot. How did your Tinnitus start YoungOldster? I am at the 2 month mark yesterday. Since it started I felt on some days like it was going away. Right ear is much much worse than left…the left one I can hardly hear the T sometimes. I am being pro-active. I grind my teeth and was told years ago to get a guard so went to dentist to rule out TMJ. No TMJ only sensitive jaw muscles and sensitive teeth so I have started a tooth guard at time just 2 days ago….it seems to make it worse…a coincidence? I dont know. Last night I went to bed my Tinnitus was very low…fell asleep and my T was very loud in right ear. So I am confused lol! I have other symtoms that started like a thumping in my ears not deep down but a thumping nonetheless…doesnt last long. Also when I am sleeping on my right ear (which is the worst one) last night I heard a sound that sounded like your cell phone is vibrating…not constant thank God. Going to our hospital for a Tinnitus consultation with audiologist on July 3 and going to my allergist in July also. Tinnitus for me started with “fluid” in my ears…so something is causing this. Hope I get an answer to all my questions. I wish you all the best and hope one day the noise will cease! L.O.V.E.

      • loraottawacanada

        p.s. I have been taking Seroquel 25mg at bedtime only. This has helped me quite a bit. An anxiety medication. Some nights I have take 12mg and it worked too. I dont want to be on meds for the rest of my life though. Cannot wait to go to Tiinitus consultation!

      • Pureshores

        hey..i am 6 days into tinnutis..it came out of nowhere..i think maybe i took too much aleve when i was hung over.wayy too much…i feel bad because do i have to suffer like this for the rest of my life? night time is the worst..that constant ringing and buzzing in my ear woke me up almost to a panic attack and i started crying and weeping like i have never cried before..on the floor…asking God to remove this awful sound from my head..is it truly possible and true that you could reach a point when this sound does not bother you at all anymore? this almost seems like a miracle…i would do ANYTHING to reach that point …i did have a cold before and i also had a little bit of an ear ache before all this happened..the ringing is on the right side of my ear/head and its worse whenenver i am in a silent room or sleeping i hear that high pitched whistle non stop..NON STOP!!! how could one live their life for the rest of their life like this..please give me hope for i am losing hope..i need relief..i need encouragement..i believe in God and surely God does not want us to suffer so much like this…does he? help me…please!!!!!! i went to the dr.he looked at my right ear..he said it was a little red and gave me antio biotics..im not sure if this will help..you see i have always had tiny mild tinnutis andi could always ignore it..but this time it is soo intrusive and powerful…

  • Mohammed

    Hi,
    I have had tinnitus for about a year now. It is worse in the morning and then fluctuates through out the day. The only direct correlation I can find is that after I excersize (jog, bball) it invariably intesifies.

    I have tried ginko, magnesium, hearing aid, zinc, stopping nsaids, stopping all meds (restarted meds when no changes).

    Can anyone extrapolate why my workouts would make it worse and what I might conclude from this correlation to help reduce/cure my tinnitus? Much Thanks! Mohammed

    • Rick

      Hi Mohammed,

      I have identical symptoms to you. I’ve also had my tinnitus for a year. Worse in the morning and worse after workouts. Although the workouts make me feel great everywhere else my tinnitus is worse.
      The only theory I have is that while you’re working out, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up, your entire body is running faster, hotter and louder (in the case of the tinnitus). Also, I notice stress greatly increases the tinnitus for all the same reasons.
      After a year I’m learning to live with it, it’s just a part of me now. My ENT has confirmed I have hearing loss in both ears and this is a direct cause of my tinnitus.

  • Mohammed

    Thanks Rick. My ENT said the same but most people with hearing loss don’t have tinnitus (my 86 year old mom for example). I haven’t come to accept it yet – maybe in another year. I have a list of possible causes and I am checking them off as I try them. Right now this excersise lead is what I am working on. So I am trying to understand the changes in the body that occur (as you listed) when you excersise and think something in that link is damaged and perhaps can be corrected. Don’t know but speculating on muscle, skeletel, arteries clogged/narrowed, neck or other… I jog so I wonder if the vibration/thumping may adversely affect a damaged/out 0f place “something” in the body that is related to the intesity of the tinnitus.

  • Ursula

    I have had tinnitis for over a year now ,caused from high frequency hearing loss. Your site has actually made me feel a lot calmer, knowing that their is hope! It does seem like it has gotten better, especially when I am busy with friends, or when I am working I hardly hear it.I also think my stress level has gone down since I have faced the fact that this is part of me and I have to deal with it. It is worse for me in the evening, it gets loud especially when I,m watching TV I hear the tinnitis over the TV.I take half of a xanax at night and I sleep very well. How can I conquer this TV thing ? My bad Times are in the evening with TV on or TV off, the noise is loud.

  • Abbe

    Ursula,
    I recommend white noise so that you have a distraction from your ears. I use a fan or use a white noise app on my phone. You can still hear the TV but the white noise helps a lot.
    I always use a fan to sleep as well.

  • george500

    Sometimes when I try to sleep I hear these loud frequency sounds in my head, they start low then increase higher and higher to a point that my feet shake. I try to snap out of it but cannot make a move…wen I receive an opportunity to make movement. The sounds stop, when I fall into sleep mode again. Then start. What is this?

  • Danilo

    With which software can I determinate the frequency of my tinnitus ?
    After that how can I find the correct sound/music for my problem ?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Adriano

    Tinnitus started to bother me more than a month ago, a permanent whistling sound that drove me crazy to the point I couldn’t sleep anymore. It’s the sound I used to hear after being to a really loud concert. Apparently there is nothing wrong with me medically and am taking some Ginkgo Biloba pills for a week now — it makes no difference but at least I feel I’m doing something and my doctor also said it would irrigate my hearing. Yesterday I decided to take a few days off from work and did NOTHING at all, just slept on the couch watching/listening to TV, and then took my wife out for dinner. Today I ran 5Km on the treadmill (workout did’t affect the noise) and drank no coffee. The tinnitus is still here, of course, but I am sure this has something to do with stress and fatigue. I guess it probably will never go away but I am crossing my fingers hoping the sound will decrease over time. In any case, I will NOT let it ruin my life, as it did for a few days last week — I am 36 and hadn’t cried for many years but after a few sleepless nights it just became too much.
    My message today is: don’t despair, remember you are not alone and tinnitus is in fact a manageable problem. PS I live in Portugal and over here every herbal store or even pharmacy has some sort of cure to sell you — it’s probably the same in the US and all over the internet. I tried some in the beginning but now am convinced this is nothing more than charlatans trying to make money over other people’s misery.

  • Elli

    I’m glad I found this blog and am heading over to the forum suggested above to read some more stories. I was put on zoloft for depression a month and a half ago. After 3 or so days i noticed my left ear occasionally ringing, this progressed to both ears and after 10 days of the high pitched ringing getting worse I stopped the zoloft. It has been 18 days since then and the ringing is present 24/7. I don’t sleep for roughly 24 – 40 hours and when i do finally fall asleep I’m lucky if I manage more than 5 hours. I’m hoping the ringing will stop and is not a permanent thing but I’m now starting to think that it will be with me from here on out. It is extremely encouraging to read that many others are able to live normal lives, even with the constant noise. I have cried many times in the past couple of weeks but after reading this blog I feel like now maybe this is something I can take control of. Thanks so much 🙂

    • Rick

      Hi Elli,

      I had to reply to your email because you sound exactly like me 1 year ago. I just woke up one morning in July 2012 with the ringing in my ears. I too cried and thought I was losing my mind. I went to 3 separate appointments with ENT specialists and discovered I had high frequency hearing loss in both ears (too many concerts and too loud volume in my earphones). I’m 55 years old and I realize now the tinnitus is with me now but the good news is that you will get used to it Elli. I’m so used to it now a year later that I’m not even aware of the tinnitus 90% of the time. It becomes a part of you and you will adjust. Hang in there, it gets better.

      Rick

    • Greg

      Elli, I agree with Rick that you will adjust to it.. I woke up with this awful hissing in my left ear about 6 months ago, thought I would go crazy the first couple of weeks. I now have learned to just adjust to it as you would an appliance running all day in you home, at least if you take this approach you won’t expect to just wake up one morning and it be gone, and maybe one day it will, but you will be able to deal with it if it don’t.. Take Care! Greg

      • Rick

        Hey Greg,
        What a great reply. Tinnitus is very sinister because it’s inside your own brain. The first month is the worst because you’re so helpless to treat it.
        As I write this update I hear the hissing in my ears but it’s the norm now and it doesn’t affect my life. I love to read and my “hissing” is part of my life, it’s just there.
        Our capacity to adapt is what makes us human. Elli, it gets better, I promise you that.

    • loraottawacanada

      I believe ZOLOFT is ototoxic….poison to the ears that can cause Tinnitus look into it with your DR. he or she has a list of ototoxic drugs.

  • Naomi C

    I developed tinitus about 2 weeks ago after a nasty head cold. Ever since, I’ve been driving myself mad and got very anxious and have been in therapy since. I’ve also started on Propanlol, to reduce the anxiety effects.
    I used to notice it all the time, even the tele. Because I became so oppssesed with the sound. At night, was the nightmare every day. Recently, I’ve never heard it during the day and the smallest if noises ie. the computer or clock can drown it out.
    Sometimes I wake up in the morning and it’s gone and when I go to sleep. I’m hoping its on its last legs now.
    Thank you for this blog, it’s nice to know I’m not on my own.

  • Greg

    Greg and Rick-

    I’ve had tinnitus for the past 6 months and at times it seems to be getting better but I’m trying to stay positive. I’m 54 and this has really been a challenge. I’ve always been active and physically fit with no health issues. Any words of encouragement? Thanks for your help. I try not to discuss it with family because they already think I’m a hypochondriac.

    • Rick

      Hi Greg,

      It was exactly 1 year ago this weekend I developed tinnitus. I’m 55, otherwise very healthy, I work out the gym 5 days per week, watch my diet, etc. The first few months is by far the worse time with tinnitus, I thought I was losing my mind. But I can tell you that it does get better. Yes, my tinnitus is still there but I go long stretches without being aware of it, sometimes hours at a time. And hen I am aware of it, it’s just part of me now.
      No more tears, no more worry. It does get better.

  • Greg

    Another note….I’ve had an MRI and other tests, which were negative. ENT…just live with it. It came on like a train through my ears. I’m struggling.

  • Greg

    Thanks Rick. I just noticed that you commented.

  • Sandy~

    You are seriously one of the most awesome people ever. After reading this it makes so much sense why I’ve been so stressed. I feel like I can handle this now and not let it bother me. Before I read this, the high pitched sound was taking over my life and literally, straight after it isn’t as noticeable. I aim to conquer it. I’ve only had it for three weeks and a day after a nasty virus but it had gone from being undeniably loud and frightening to a high pitch that doesn’t bother me as much and is much quieter. I feel I have the strength to move on now and not let it control my life. Man, I used to go straight into quiet rooms just so I could hear it, close my hands over my ears and focus hard… not anymore now! Much love from a fellow tinnitus sufferer~ ^.^

  • Ian

    This is one of the best write-ups on Tinnitus I have come across. I’m an acoustics engineer and have quite loud tinnitus in both ears, like a constant high pitched screech at about 4kHz. It began very suddenly on 1st of Feb 2011, possibly due to stress at work(?), and has never really stopped since. I’m very careful with my hearing and use ear defenders and ear-plugs if I think I might damage it (including using 18dB attenuating earplugs at concerts!). The advice to “learn not to notice it” is excellent. Your post is obviously making a big difference to a lot of people! Well done!

  • Grant

    Your site is very encouraging. You reinforce what I think is the answer which is to keep it in perspective and most importantly accept it and even embrace it as just part of the new you.

    A good site for free nature MP3 is this one:

    http://archive.org/details/Sounds_of_Nature_Collection

    This has a number of good masking sounds for Tinnitus. I like the crickets because my Tinnitus is around 9200 herz and the cricket audio is mainly at the high end of the frequencies.

    • Danilo

      Good news to know that site of nature sounds collection.
      But … how to determinate the frequecy of my tinnitus ?
      Is there any windows free software that does it ?
      After knowing the frequency, how to procede to choose the correct sound as good masking sound ?
      Very thanks in advance.

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