In Hearing on Thursday 15th Jun, 2017

Why I’m buzzed off by my tinnitus

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There are ways to manage that pesky buzzing or ringing in your ears.

What’s that noise I can hear?

Actually, the noise is not really a noise. It’s more a sensation that comes and goes inside my head. But it is not in my head. Or is it?

These are questions that began to occur less than a year ago and after a bit of online research, I determined that I have a very mild form of tinnitus. 

I don’t think it was triggered by any event, although I do recall having a very bad cold that involved an earache around the time it started. However, I doubt the few days of illness had much to do with it.

Sometimes the noise is quite distinct and if I allow it to take my full attention it becomes distracting. Yet it never completely overwhelms me. I find that what is happening around me comes to the fore and that sensation I feel in my head takes a back seat.

It is not like a persistent pain or even a dull ache that completely distracts me from all that I try to do. For me, it’s as if the noise comes as a gentle reminder that maybe I should seek professional advice. Yet there are days there’s no noise at all and any thoughts of there being something amiss don’t arise.

So, what does it sound like? Well, it changes from something akin to cicadas to a low hum, yet never loud enough that I can say exactly what it sounds like. Nor can I say that I always feel it inside my head. It can be as if the noise is coming from a distance and if I turn my head the direction from which it comes, it changes. It’s a strange thing!

I had no idea it was a common condition that will affect about 17 – 20 per cent of Australians at some stage of their lives and that for some sufferers it is extremely debilitating. Apparently, there is no cure.

Scary, for sure. I can only imagine how awful it must be to have a severe, debilitating form of tinnitus.

But there are many websites dealing with tinnitus and offering advice as to what causes it and how the condition can be managed. For now, I manage it quite easily by distracting myself.

I concentrate on other things or focus on the task at hand and what is going on around me. If the noise comes at night and threatens to disrupt sleep, I search for other sounds or I conjure up pleasant thoughts.

I’ve discovered that in the very worst cases, though, tinnitus is the cause of a raft of conditions including sleep deprivation, frustration, pain, and disrupted speech to depression and anxiety.

Not a welcome thought for someone such as myself who is only self-diagnosed.

I wonder if it will get worse or if it will continue as nothing more than a minor irritation that has very little effect on my life. Just in case, I’ll seek advice from an audiologist who’ll no doubt offer up an exhaustive list of strategies to deal with it.

It’ll be list I’ll gladly wade through if they can offer treatment that helps cure my tinnitus or a guarantee that it will not get worse!

Do you have tinnitus? How do you deal with it?

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