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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.

450 Comments so far

  • matt

    More research that confirms findings of the author of this blog. “The more the patient worries about and concentrates on the sound, the greater and more persistent it becomes.”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-139867/A-sound-hope-tinnitus-victims.html#ixzz2qQ6gP7Fe

  • Mark

    Thanks for everyone’s comments on the board. My tinnitus has been going on for a year with different degrees. I like to contribute it to my CPAP that was initially set to a higher pressure than it should have been which caused alot of popping in my ears. I had it re-calibrated a couple of months after but my ringing never stopped. it got louder recently when I went on a flight with a sinus cold I was getting over (BAD IDEA).. Fluid filled BOTH ears and it took over a month to start to drain. The ringing was LOUDER with fluid and still loud with some of the fluid drained. UGH.. Hopefully, it will get less intense over time but I have to agree that rewiring the brain may be the sure answer..

  • Chuck

    It’s now approaching 4 months since my tinnitus started. I’ve followed a similar emotional trajectory to many of the others that post to this blog. The most difficult time was a span of 6 weeks in late November and December during which time I was unable to sleep and working myself into a panic, anxiety state. I had made the mistake of taking pills to fall asleep (Ativan, zopiclone) for 3 weeks and when they stopped working, I began to despair. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel, could not see how I could continue to function at work and envisioned a life devoid of joy.
    On Dec. 20, I went cold turkey on sleeping pills. I was off for 2 weeks till early January and took advantage of this time to devote myself to relearning how to sleep with tinnitus and without pills. The first week was a sleepless hell but I gradually emerged from the darkness stronger and more resilient than I have ever been. These are the things that have helped me:
    1) Found a therapist who understood tinnitus. I’ve now seen her 3 times and she has been an enormous help. She taught me that the tinnitus was a product of ‘thoughts that had gone a little to far’ and gave me strategies to prevent the tinnitus from triggering emotion (the limbic system) and the ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline response. These strategies have really worked in ‘down-regulating’ my nervous system.
    (a) breathing to relax – breathe in through your nose and then breathe out twice as long. Focus on the sensation of breathing and let go of the negative thoughts. Use when negative thoughts come into your head or when you feel generally anxious. Keeps you out of that downward spiral.
    (b) mindfulness meditation – at her suggestion, I enrolled in a 12 week mindfulness meditation workshop. Been to only 3 classes and am doing my homework with fantastic results already.
    (c) energy psychology – tapping on accupressure points on your body and face several times a day while verbalizing your worries and expressing your beliefs that they may improve. Needs commitment and you have to believe in the treatment somewhat for it to work. I believe, I believe, I believe…
    2) Exercise – I made a point of walking, cycling and in bad weather, walking the treadmill. A great and natural non-drug way to combat anxiety and improve sleep.
    3) Building on successes – once you begin to sleep more and gain confidence, you can begin to ‘tame the beast’ that is tinnitus. Realize that it is largely a product of your mind and your anxieties. The greater control you gain over your mind, the better you feel and the quieter the tinnitus becomes.
    4) The book “The Tools” by Phil Stutz and Barry Michel. Wonderful and unique approach to curing yourself of your anxieties and neuroses. Read the chapter on “Reversal of desire” and substitute ‘tinnitus’ for ‘pain’. To shrink the tinnitus, you must desire it, approach it, become one with and conquer your fear of it. Only then can you begin to move forward. While I have truly benefited from Tomasz’s insights (one of the best tinnitus blogs on the net), I have learned that avoidance of the tinnitus may not be the answer for all.

    My tinnitus has been extremely quiet for the past 3 days and I am thrilled by that. I recognize that it may come back but I’ll be ready for it with my brain down-regulation strategies poised for action. I truly believe that over time, using some of these approaches, you can ‘rewire your own brain’ and cure yourself of your tinnitus.

  • Americanwomen

    Mine is really loud sometimes only on my left side. I don’t think it will ever go away. I have cut out all the stuff that is the so called triggers and it still comes on strong at night. I have had it for over a year or two. Yes I shot guns had husband die and life sucks but stress caused. I don’t know about that. It is inside the ear the ENT said. 63 and tired of it all

  • Kate

    Excellent blogs. Many thanks for sharing the information!

  • Cherie

    I have had tinnitus for over two years. I have stopped many things that they say are reasons they get loud. caffeine aphinameniphine diet or zero calorie anything. it did change the amount of noise I hear. I have it the most in the evening after I have eaten and all the calories from the day and the stress is resting in my body.
    Sometimes it gets so bad I would call my brother to have him pray for me. He passed this last September so I just turn up TV or radio or something.
    I hope it will go away but, I doubt it. I have to live with this the rest of my life.

    • Rick

      Hi all,

      I’ve noticed some very dire postings here lately and I feel the need to speak up. I’ve had tinnitus for almost 2 years now.
      At first I thought I was losing my sanity, it was very scary. I looked out my condo windows thinking it was coming from outside. When I realized it was in my own brain I got even more scared. The mental trip is very intense and can make you feel alone and helpless.
      I discovered this fantastic blog and realized I was not alone. After 2 years I am now functioning fine and am “used” to the noisy companion in my brain. Yes, I wish it wasn’t there but it’s a part of me now and the more you learn to accept it the more you learn to live with it.
      I’m hearing it now as I write this post, audio frequencies rise and lower sometimes but that’s me now.
      I still live my life, I work out all the time, work at my job, and listen to music.
      Do not be afraid of this thing called tinnitus, it’s attached itself to you but you can live with it and it does get better with time.
      I work with a fellow who has ALS, that ain’t fun.

      Keep strong, it really is a mental thing, mind over matter.
      Me personally, I don’t remember silence, my “crickets” are a part of me now.

      Be well.

      Rick

      • Cherie

        Hey Riick, I just got your post in my mail box. I know it is strange to think this is going to be with us till die.
        I as well got away from that stuff but really in the evening I guess it is all the food that has turned to sugar and the stress of the day.
        Sometimes I just put my ear bugs in to get rid of the noise. I hope I am not making it worse.
        The Dr.’s were a waste if time and money. Some was anything from the store..
        I guess this is it. I wish I was one of the ones that it came and went or comes and goes. but no. not me. 😉

    • Hillary

      Cherie,

      I first posted on here almost 2 years ago. I destroyed my ears at a concert with my son. His ringing ended as soon as he left the concert and mine has never gone away. I have been through all the worst experiences of panic you can imagine. A few doctor visits and hearing checks. I lost high frequency hearing because of this one trauma. I remember pacing in my bedroom crying and calling my sister in law who suffers from Meniere’s. She has been plagued by ringing for years as a side effect of the disease. She copes just fine and talked me through my worst moments. The side effects of Meniere’s is so extreme that ringing is the least of her problems. The trick at first is constant background noise and training your mind to listen to ALL noises around you–not just the chirping. Easier said than done. Focusing on the ringing is exhausting on all levels. Physically, my body couldn’t handle the stress anymore and mysteriously my brain switched it’s focus on it’s own. Also, you mention prayer. A coincidence or not…I belong to a bible study and during one of our meetings it was amazingly quiet in the house and the ringing was extreme. I started crying because I couldn’t take it. My friends were so worried. Without any delay they all prayed over my ears–sounds nuts! I didn’t know what to think but I was willing to try anything. These are incredibly faith filled women. The ringing didn’t go away–but around that time I just started coping. It became just another ambient sound. I no longer even need to sleep with a fan. Never underestimate the power of prayer! A big part of this is not allowing yourself to be sucked into the panic spiral. All will be ok.

      • cherie

        god is great prayer works it might be what you were expecting but knowing that God is with us. I give this to him as well and can be present with life and put it on the back burner.Thank you for sharing that.

  • Amatsia

    i share everyone’s sentiment about this post. It has been of tremendous value, thank you Tomasz!

    i also developed tinnitus just over 3 months ago, and have been through the same ride as most people posted here. I also have some hearing loss at higher frequencies, which seems to have caused the tinnitus. At this point it is annoying at times, but manageable so far.

    I met with Dr Robert LEvine, who apparently is one of the worlds leading researcher into tinnitus (Harvard). Here is a youtube video of some of the work he has done on the use of benzodiazepine drugs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaj7bpLd4MY and how to use it: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxkb2N0b3JsZXZpbmVzdGlubml0dXNzaXRlfGd4OjEzZWQwZWQxYTY4OTBjOWU

    He also believes that muscular issues can cause tinnitus. I usually hear the sounds much louder in my left ear, as if it is coming from somewhere on the left side of my brain. He noticed that the muscles in the left side of the neck were larger, and suggested i try acupuncture with someone he specifically recommended. Haven’t yet, but it is interesting that i started to exercise again (after having not exercised for a long while) around the time i got tinnitus. Though i am not sure how all of it is connected.

    I haven’t done the valium thing either since i am working on simply dealing with it as is, but i would love to hear if anyone has had any experience or has seen other research on this.

    I also have placed my cell phone on the night table near by head while sleeping as my alarm clock. Who KNows what these things can cause.

    Finally, i have noticed that my tinnitus (more in the left side, sometimes it sounds like nothing is coming from the right) starts buzzin when i hear a piano, or if i am in a room with lots of neon lighting.

    Thanks again

  • Nifer72

    I noticed a “ringing” in my ears (more like a constant high pitched buzzing like the sound electronics give off) about two weeks ago after starting a new medication. Once I realized that the sound was internal and not external I called my Dr and we found that the muscle relaxer I had started taking did have tinnitus as a rare side effect. So it’s been about a week now without taking the med and still no relief from the tinnitus. I know that it could take months or it may never go away. Dr is getting ready to refer me to an ENT just to check hearing loss and whatever else. I’m 41 years old and have never really had any issues with my ears except for two bouts of severe vertigo that went away with medication and time.

    I appreciate you article and hope to find your suggestions helpful. Right now I can ignore it for the most part when talking to people or watching tv, but “silence” seems to amplify it… and during work even if i have music playing it seems like the loudest sound in the room.

    Thank you again for the article, I will be attempting a lot of your suggestions and hope to find some relief

  • Matt

    Just discovered a story by a board certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Hanscom, some of you might find useful. Dr. Hanscom reports finding a way to conquer his tinnitus (created, he thinks, from years in the noisy construction business when he was younger). His technique is very much like Tomasz’ and those presented by others here who have learned to deal with this condition. It’s interesting to get a story from a doctor who suffered with the same situation … a story which has a happy ending and offers hope: http://www.drdavidhanscom.com/2012/10/the-ringing-in-my-ears/

  • Bivu

    I love u man
    just have read 100 of articles on tinnitus as I am suffering since a month and going mad, I feel this is the best article and possible cure I have ever read.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Kate

    I first had tinnitus 25 years ago, with 4 years of thinking I was going mad. I can’t remember how he tinnitus disappeared, then 8 years ago it returned. I suffered for 7 months and again it went away. Back in Dec’13 the tinnitus returned with a vengeance. I just didn’t know how to cope once again I was in a vicious circle. I had sleeping tablets for a month..tried cranial osteopathy which didn’t work (been told it takes 2 years or so for the treatment to work). What has helped me is relaxing and getting rid of my anxiety. I massage my feet each night with sesame oil in particular the ear points on the feet. I practice 15 mins of brahmari pranayama. Since last week I have been having saraswat churna (Ayurveda herb mixture) with honey and ghee. I bought it from ebay. it has helped calm my anxiety attacks. I have also been having a couple of teaspoons of herb brahmi n hot water Last night for the first time since having tinnitus I slept without a sleeping tablet and feel refreshed this morning. Although the tinnitus is still there but I am learning to ignore it. All the best.

  • Lynda

    I got a steroid injection in my back and 2 weeks later on Christmas day I came down with a massive migraine. My blood pressure was very high, so my doctor thought the migraines was from the high blood pressure. Finally got it under control but now I have ringing and clogged ears. I had an MRI and everything is fine. Went to a ENT doctor who said I have TMJ but I have no other symptoms for it. I still get migraines once in awhile but the clogged ears are really bothering me. The ringing bothers me mostly at night but have been taking a low dosage of Xanex to help me sleep and I also listen to music. Now I am having problems seeing. Wearing my contacts give me a headache and I just had my vision checked acouple of weeks before the migraines started. Going back to the eye doctor to see if my prescription has changed. Needless to say the injection in my back did not work and now I have horrible pain (sciatica and herniated disc). I have read that anti-inflammatory medicines make tinnitus worse. I am trying to find something to take to relieve my back pain but doesn’t make the tinnitus worse. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • Tomasz

      I’ve also read people saying that various things make their tinnitus worse – caffeine, painkillers, alcohol, etc. Personally, I’ve never experienced much of a difference. Or, to be more specific, my daily fluctuations in tinnitus (best after waking up, worst before going to bed) are much bigger than any changes effected by caffeine, aspirin, etc.
      I think it’s possible that some people are just experiencing placebo effect (or, more properly, “nocebo”) – they expect to hear a difference, so they hear it.

  • Dennis

    Thank you this really helped

  • Diego

    This really was super helpful for me. I read it every time I got depressed, and for sure I will overcome this annoying (because it is just that) condition.
    Thank you Tomas!

  • Lynda

    I have had tinnitus for 2 months now. Was dealing with it but woke up today and my right ear is pulsating. It is hard to ignore since everytime it pulsates I feel it. I just went to an ENT doctor last week and my ears were clear and he didn’t see anything wrong. Going to get a hearing test next week. Does anyone know why my ear is pulsating now? It is really scary since now I have the ringing and pulsating, my ear also is very clogged today. The ENT shot something up my nose before he put the tube in my nose to look at my ears. I hope that didn’t make the pulsating start.

    • Cherie

      wow, my doctor didn’t do any of those things. Just a hearing test and the bad news that this is my new normal could or not go away.
      I have had pulsing too. you are ok. The doctors cost tons and do little cause there isn’t much they can do. Try to find your peace place. I just ignore it if possible, if not just deal with it.
      Life could of gotten worse I guess.

      • Kate

        Lynda – Cherie is right. You need to acknowledge the horrid tinnitus is not going to disappear over night. You have to slowly accept it somehow and learn to ignore it, this is the most difficult part. Even when you hear the noise, surf the net or do something to take your mind off the noise. I usually have the tv as background noise and always surfing the net for things…until I get physically tired. I’ve also been consuming Cheshire cheese half an hour before bed..it is very bizarre but I have had a good sleep due to this. You may want to check this out on the Daily Mail website. All the best

  • monica

    Okay just wondering if anybody had any idea why I have got tinnitus and if it will go? I have had it five weeks and in that time it has destroyed me. I have not slept at all, I have had to defer my final year at university because I just could not function properly. My hearing is perfect, my ears are fine and it was not noise induced. I have not had a head injury, or a bad cold or any of the other causes that have been put forward. I was on no medication so that cant be a reason. I literally just went to bed and a ringing started. It is only in my left ear but it is so loud. I can mask it with things such as a fan or dehumidifier but can hear it over things such as tv etc. I am really struggling with this especially because five different doctors and an ent specialist cannot fathom why I have got it. Oh and I am only 21 years old as well.

    • Gkn

      Maybe it will go stay calm and just wait

      • Rick

        Hi GKN,
        This blog is a very helpful tool for new tinnitus sufferers, it restores normality to an insane condition.
        I’ve said this before so please forgive me fellow blog followers for my repetition but it helps new victims.
        I’ve had tinnitus for 2 1/2 yrs now. I hoped it would go away and it did not. ENT specialists have no cure or even treatment other than masking devices.
        Personally, I am now used to the loud crickets in my brain, they are there right now as I write this. But they are a part of me now.
        Live your life, it really does get better with time.
        Peace.

        Rick

    • Jamie

      Hi Monica,
      I’m also a young sufferer, being in first year at university, so I totally understand the situation you’re in right now. I first developed it in October and found it so awful at times when I first had it that I couldn’t get out of bed, and it reduced me to tears countless times. But trust me when I say that it gets better. More than anything you just have to accept that it probably won’t go away, at least not immediately; the sooner you do that the better. I found that as soon as I did that, stopped searching for cures, and stopped going on internet forums about tinnitus, it became so much more bearable. It’s now at the point that I don’t really notice it for 90% of the day, and even when I do it doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much as it used to. Personally I found that masking it with noise did not really help me, and that when I stopped using it and just forced myself to get used to the noise it became more bearable….obviously the same thing doesn’t work for everyone though. The main thing is just to keep up with your daily life and try to keep as normal as possible.
      Hope this helps, even in a small way.

      • Rick

        Great message Jamie. Tinnitus, although a physical problem takes mental strength to cope with.

      • Monica

        Thank you for your message that has been really helpful. Today has been a good day I have managed to get on with things and the noise has not been the main focus of my day. When I got this I was so shocked I always assumed it was in older people with hearing loss and noise damage I never knew you could just get it out of the blue and at such a young age. But after searching around I have realised many younger people have got this a friend of mine has a little boy who is only nine and constantly crying and screaming because he has a noise in his ear that sounds like someone is blowing a loud whistle in it all day long. It has made me realise that I am not alone in this and there are people much worse off then me. Thank you for taking the time to write your message and offer support. I have actually chosen to defer my final year at university until next year because I couldn’t cope with all my deadlines on top of the tinnitus and the insomnia that has come along with it. If you have managed to carry on with your university work then I take my hat off to you. Hopefully in a few months time I will be where you are at now when I only notice it now and again.
        All the best
        xxxxx

    • Cherie

      Monica, I know it has been tuff on you. We all get it. If you can be calm it will help. If you believe in God, pray it will help. If you can just know that doing something else instead of concentrating on this will help.
      I pray that this will have an end date for you. I understand some young folks like you will have an end date. Pray for Peace and it will come.
      I am old er 63 and I would say 50 percent of the time or more I can ignore it. Get on with my life.
      I lost my husband to cancer a year and a half ago and you know, it could of been worse. This is not a death sentence.

      • Monica

        Thank you that is really nice of you to say. I have been much better today I actually managed to get some sleep last night (with an increased dose of a tablet to help me sleep) and today I have been much better at not focusing on it. The lack of sleep is really whats causing me not being able to cope with it. I am booked in with a hypnotherapist who is experienced with working with tinnitus to help me change the perception of the sound and help me to deal with it if it is long term. Thank you for your support and I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. This has certainly made me appreciate my family and friends who have been there for me at what has certainly been the lowest point in my life. I know that I can’t let this control me and take over my life like I have been letting it the past five weeks.
        Wishing you luck and happiness
        xxxxxx

        • Cherie

          Thank You Monica. I too take something for sleep. If you look at the back of the packages at the store they are all the same drug. the newest dose of that is 50MG same med put out by zzz Quill The Pharmacist at the VA suggested it to my brother.
          I hope you have good results form the hypnotherapist let me know

          • Monica

            The tablet I am on is technically not a sleeping tablet its an antidepressant which they have found in low doses can be used as a relaxant to help stop worrying keeping you awake. The doctors aren’t too keen on putting me on a sleeping tablet as they are for short term use only I am not sure where you are from but here in England they hate prescribing sleeping tablets they stay away from them if possible. If I continue having trouble sleeping though I will be going back and asking for something a bit stronger. I will let you know how it goes with the hypnotherapist. The NHS wont even consider you for therapy over here unless you have had tinnitus for six months (chronic) so I have had to seek alternative options. Thank you again for your support
            xxxxx

    • Amatsia

      Dear Monica, have you had a MRI? I had a friend with the same in one ear, and it turned out to be an acoustic neuroma, which is completely benign, and he had it removed 3 years ago. He now wears a hearing aid and it completely helps.

      Hang in there, it is no fun but you must push yourself to move on.

  • Sandy^^

    Hey everyone…
    So it’s been 10 months since the ringing began and… actually I’m doing pretty damn well! I’ve been through a roller coaster of events since last June when I first started noticing a loud ringing. I had so many problems but most are alright now. Luckily, I’ve noticed the only thing I was properly spared from was sleep. I guess I knock out too easily and I’m thankful for that though I guess it didn’t help a great lot.

    On the negative side of things now, I have moderate depression and anxiety triggered by the ringing however, on the positive side, I’m still alive and well, and my ringing actually rarely bothers me now, and when it does, it only bothers me for perhaps a minute before my mind drifts elsewhere. It’s annoyingly sad how little knowledge and understanding there is of tinnitus, however, to anyone who reads this, I have my own personal advice as a 17 year old… so I guess not everyone will find this helpful. However, I’ll never know who I could help unless I try to help. Here’s my five…

    1) Go to an ENT as soon as you possibly can. Put your mind at ease a little, knowing you’re not going to die/you’re not going to go deaf (almost all don’t have serious issues with tinnitus). It’s those catastrophic thoughts that make us panic and go crazy, and make us concentrate on it and make it go louder.
    2) Eat more pineapples. It has something to do with reducing inflammation of the inner ears which MAY be a hint to why people get tinnitus. They taste great, are healthy with lots of benefits so it’s a bonus.
    3) Eat almonds too. Some people swear it helps quieten tinnitus- not sure exactly why- but then again it could be a placebo effect which I guess is still good. Anyway it’s helping me, so could possibly help you? (This is considering you’re not allergic to almonds)
    4) Don’t avoid going to parties, loud places etc… just buy musician earplugs preferably off Amazon because it’s cheap and convenient. They don’t affect the quality of music- take it from a music-fanatic. They just make it quieter so it doesn’t damage your ears. I think the quality gets better to be honest. It’s also a great peace of mind, too, knowing you’re not damaging your ears! The more you avoid these kinds of things, the more worse you’ll feel.
    5) Leading on 4, do the things you enjoy, go out and have fun. By worrying, you’re getting yourself worked up and it’s best to increase dopamine (the happy hormone) by going out and getting active. It’s a great mood booster and it’s great for your body too!

    I hope these tips can help someone here. Good luck everyone!
    Sandy^^ 🙂

  • Stevie T

    Hi Guys Just thought I would post a message as I have had Tinnitus for about 3 months as well. I have had my hearing checked by 3 ENT specialists and have great hearing for a 50 year old, their words not mine.
    I have a high pitch 11000hzt pitch and whistle in the middle of the back of my head which started after a long stressful drive to London from my home in Devon. The noise started in a very quite room a point that should be noted here is that according to the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis centre that I visited in London last month should be avoided at all cost as total quite causes the filters in the brain to widen and lock onto any noise that they can hear. As everybody can hear tinnitus in a very quite setting your filters lock onto the noise your brain makes or the disco tinnitus that you get after a gig etc, you then create an emotional link to this noise and the loop is created.
    The information that is made available here on this website is so true about tinnitus, it does get better with time as your brain relearns how to disregard the noise in your head ears etc, if you continue to think that tinnitus is something to be beaten or the enemy it makes it harder for your brain to let go of the loop. If you would like to hear a great tape by Jonathon Hazell one of the top tinnitus doctors in the world you can search for the tinnitus and hyperacusis centre in London and there is a massive amount of positive information and reassurance on that site. Please don’t think that I am trying to sell this as it is all for free and I have nothing to do with this site apart from the fact that I have been to see them once. All I would like to do is offer some positive news here as when I got tinnitus I searched the web and was utterly dismayed at some of the stories I read.
    On a positive note my tinnitus is now much quieter that it was, at one time I could hear it above the dyson, heartbreaking as I really thought that my like was all but over, having a 12 year old and a 10 year old, suicide was never an option but there were days when I could’t function so I totally understand where you guys come from. I hope this post helps, bless you all

  • Lynda

    Does anyone’s ears also clogged with tinnitus? Sometimes at night my ears get so clogged I have to keep swallowing to unclog them. I also get alot of pressure in my ears. I have had hearing tests and the ENT doctor has checked my inner ear. Everything is clear. I am also getting pain once in awhile in my right ear. I am trying real hard to accept having tinnitus and not to think about it but it is hard when my head is clogged.

    • Cherie

      no sorry Lynda I know I am not much help but wanted to say no I dont

    • Rick

      Hi Lynda,

      Usually if your ears get clogged and your hearing is fine, it’s a result of either high pressure damage (say, from a lot of flying) or low pressure damage (eg. scuba diving) I’m not a doctor and I’m sure your ENT pointed these symptoms out to you. I do a lot of swimming and it usually helps my tinnitus but of course I swim im my condo pool, not ocean depths.
      Good luck.

    • Stevie T

      Hi Lynda the condition that you refer to is called Eustacian tube dysfunction. I also get this a lot and its caused by a build up of fluid in the little tube that leads from your ear to your throat. I have to clear mine constantly especially after a cold. It should drain away naturally have you had a bad cold lately? Often I sleep slightly raised so as to try not to get it blocking up so badly. Has your ENT talked about antibiotics I also try Nurofen now and again as this can reduce the swelling in the tubes and help them keep clear. Also menthol crystals in boiling water and breath the vapour. I hope this helps just to let you know I am not a doctor but I find these things help.

  • Jim

    Let me get back at it after posting once in December. It’s been 6 full months now and it really barely bothers me now. I am also battling with panic disorder this period which actually takes much of my energy and doesn’t leave me time for T. Jamie’s situation above is very similar to mine.

    What I wanted to add, is that I have visited a very good doctor who seemed to know what he was talking about who did some unique tests, one of which was checking how damage the ear cells that cause T are. He also measured the frequency of the T and also advised me to have TRT and/or a laser based therapy which is good for young people like me (27 yo). So I am wondering why no one has mentioned anything similar. I realize alo of people here might be from the US and the doctor told me that this is particularly popular in continental Europe, but I am really surprised that no one else has mentioned anything of this.

    Me, I didn’t bother as it doesn’t bother me all that much and if anything I thought that it will only make me think of it more while doing the therapy. A friend of mine, suffering also from T saw very good results with accupuncture, not sure if anyone here has tried that.

  • Lynda

    Hi, was wondering if anyone knows of a pain medicine I can take for my back that won’t effect my tinnitus. I am in alot of pain. I have 2 herniated discs and I am scared of going for a steroid shot for fear it will make my tinnitus worse. Any suggestions or does anyone know if the steroid shot will make it worse? Thanks.

  • Derrick

    Tinnitus discovered me March 9th. 2014, Like everyone else I am happy to have found this spot on the internet just because it’s positive and uplifting.

  • Diego

    Hey Thomas!
    I was wondering if you are thinking to write another post about Tinnitus after all this years. It could be super helpful for everybody I think.
    Best wishes!

  • Fabrizio

    Hallo to everyone! I discovered this beautiful article and I decided to let go all other websites, because reading about tinnitus is going to make me more worried and anxious. Tips contained here are extremely useful for me. I’m italian and I am (or was) a professional musician, tinnitus developed during a loud concert kept 40 days ago. I’ve been playing bass in jazz or blues concerts during the last 10 years, but it was during a loud rock concert that I developed this problem; obviously it wasn’t the first time in my life, it happened to have my ears ringing after concerts, but this time it was louder and it didn’t pass until now (only in left ear). I feel pain sometimes in the inner ear, both in the left and in the right one. My doctor suggested me to take a musical brake, because tinnitus could grow up, so I’m not playing anymore!!! (a part the not-amplified bass when I’m home) until… I don’t know when. How you can imagine this is a big issue for me, as it is my only profession since many years, and a way to live. Anyway tinnitus now is not so strong, I can stay many hours during the day without hearing it. I’m probably learning to handle this new particular “condition”, but I’d like to know if I can continue my profession soon. So every suggestion is well accepted: if you know other musicians who developed tinnitus I can speak with, drugs (I’m taking magnesium and ginkgo biloba), info about earplugs, experimental cures. I found that make playing on the pc the exact frequencies of my tinnitus stop it, but it’s always very temporary, and anyway I think my ears need a rest in that particular range of frequencies. I stopped using white noise after I reading this article, and I found it a good idea. I’m accepting tinnitus and I’m stopping thinking about it. I completely stopped drinking alcohol and I’m practicing sport. Anyway, for what concern the musical part of my life, every (not-anxoius) suggestion is accepted. Thank you

  • Nick

    You are lucky if you can simply ignore your tinnitus. Mine is around 6khz, is about as loud as a car engine (is louder than people talking to me sometimes), and hasn’t stopped for a minute for the last 6 years. I can really understand why some people that kill themselves due to it, especially when some people have it several times louder than even i do. The only thing that I have ever been able to do is temporary reduce it with a brown noise machine (white noise makes it worse). My ENT said to do this because it tricks my brain into thinking that it shouldnt be hearing high noises. Also when I stopped drinking coffee and cut my salt intake way down there was a noticeable quieting. We gotta live with it, and eventually you get the point where it becomes such a part of you that the thought of silence is almost scary. Thats my take on it anyhow

    • Rick

      Hi Nick,
      I am a regular reader, contributor and sufferer of tinnitus.
      I’m going on two years now, mine is more the sound of crickets which is a helluva lot nicer than what you must be experiencing!
      Jesus, a car engine!
      You’re showing a lot of strength and generosity contributing here.
      I think you’re an example of how we can used to just about anything.

      Take care.

      Rick

  • Diana

    I have tinnitus for about 6 years. I tried everythin in 6 countries.
    Please, don’t do the same mistake like me. Don’t waste your money with “miracles” and orthers stuffs from amazon or other websites. 🙂

  • jenni tarry

    Thank you so much for this uplifting article, I am very grateful to you for putting it all in such a positive light. I think the mental filtering out of the worst of the effects is by far the best way to tackle it when there’s no ‘cure’ so to speak.

    I first started experiencing tinnitus about three or four months ago, after having had treatment for mercury toxicity (amalgam fillings replaced) which resulted in a severe candida overgrowth and other issues. There was definitely no other stressor which could have caused it.

    The saddest part for me with the tinnitus experience was that I no longer was able to find the peace and quiet I craved when wanting to escape noisy town life – my hilltop sanctuary where it was possible to not hear a manmade sound at all. I now carry noise with me constantly.

    Fighting it is of no use, the stress only gives me a headache and worsen the noise – a cacophony of chirruping overlaying a shrill turbine whine. Accepting gently what is, allows me to focus more fully on other more positive aspects of life thereby reducing the negative effect tinnitus could have, if I allowed it.

  • Kate

    Someone posted a blog on this site about research that had taken place in Israel, it emerged patients who were given the GABA amino acid found their tinnitus had lessened. I ordered the GABA powder from the internet, been taking it for the last couple of nights. I can report I have had sound sleep, the volume of tinnitus is much lower, I can actually concentrate on my work during the day time and relax during the evening instead of listening to the roaring, high whistling sounds.

  • John

    Hi. I have suffered from tinnitus for 6 years. My tinnitus started after virus infection. As many bloggers have said a good sleep calms tinnitus and disturbed sleep aggravates tinnitus. I sometimes take 1/5 tablet of amitriptyline which gives me a calm nights sleep. Care though, some medications are known to cause tinnitus ! I had my gall bladder removed about 3 years ago and that’s definitely reduced my tinnitus levels.
    Finally, I read the American Tinnitus Association website for ideas- they are committed to finding a cure for tinnitus.

  • jumbos4321

    tinnitus is the worst thing that has ever happend to me i felt as if i had done something wrong to get this curse as i call it but each day i cope with it im to young 22 to give up on my own life just becouse of this find something you love that helps a lot just finding things you like and think about them if you feel really down most days talk to someone listen to soft music try to sleep for a bit it easy for people to say youll be fine one here it nice to know that there are millions of people suffer with it you really do feel less alone we each have something that allows us to cope better with it !!

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