Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coping With Ringing In The Ear

Since my friend Jeff struggles with Tinnitus and I'm learning a considerable amount about ringing in the ear, I asked him to write and share his experiences with me so I could post them on this blog.  Until I saw this video (posted to my blog on August 25, 2011) and actually heard similar sounds to what these people hear, I had no idea how horrible it was for them.

So here's what Jeff Lemlich wrote and my hope is that it will help others that deal with this condition.

“Hear ye, hear ye.”    That’s easier said than done for the 50 million people suffering from tinnitus.    That buzzing-in-the-head, ringing in the ears, never-a-moment-of-silence feeling can make life very difficult at times.    Believe me, I know.

Tinnitus has many causes, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t exactly sure how it started.    I know attending roughly 125 live rock concerts a year didn’t help matters.   Neither did the Klonopin (clonazepam) I took to help me sleep every night.  Add to that a bunch of aspirin, a few rough ear lavages from doctors who weren’t exactly gentle, and well, you get the picture.    Something kept on ringing, and it sure wasn’t the phone.

I can remember a few times, early in my life, when my ears would ring for a few days at a time.    One was after shooting guns at a range with my dad.   Another was after a concert by two great British bands of the ‘70s, Slade and 10cc.    While my ears would ring, eventually it would stop, and things would get back to normal.    Once tinnitus came on, though, things were different.   The ringing came on, but wouldn’t stop.   Ever.

David Letterman had a real good line about his own battle with tinnitus.    He spoke of waking up, hearing sounds around him.    Moments later he realized those sounds didn’t come from the other room, or even outside.    He woke up, in his words, to “the sound of my head.”    That’s how it is for tinnitus sufferers.   We wake up to the sounds of our heads.

Not everyone hears the same noises.   My ringing is a little like cicadas or crickets going non-stop. Loud noises, such as hammering, increase the sounds, which get higher pitched and resemble more traditional ringing in the ears. 

So what do I do?   I find it important to have some kind of white noise in the room.   Lately I’ve been listening to the recorded sound of ocean waves, which gives me something else to listen to besides the non-stop ringing and buzzing.    While that might not be a good idea for those whose ear symphonies resemble ocean sounds, it’s something I’d recommend for everyone else.   I also find it important to keep the wax in my ear from building up too much.   That increases the pressure, and in turn increases the physical discomfort that I sometimes feel.    I also use the speaker phone as much as possible.   My ears get very uncomfortable with a phone pressed up against it.    I’m not sure if that’s directly related to tinnitus, but I have a feeling it is.

The worst part is having to ask people to repeat what they just said.   I can probably make out 90 percent or more of the words I hear – but it’s that other 10 percent that’s a problem.    Did you just ask me to get you some water, or did you just tell me that you got some water?    It’s the “little words” that cause the most problems – the ones that can change the meaning of what’s being said.   It is worse outdoors, where all kinds of sounds are competing for my attention.    I also hate staying away from nightclubs, and the loud music I’ve always enjoyed, but it’s just too darn hard to hear in that environment.    Perhaps Pete Townshend of the Who said it best:   “I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal components deaf.”   Like Townshend, I never wore earplugs.   That’s my biggest regret.

These are some of my experiences, and how I’ve learned to cope with tinnitus.   Feel free to leave a comment, and share some experiences of your own.

Below are some resources that may help you out and if they do, please come back and let me know.  Anything that can be done to help those who suffer from Tinnitus (ringing in the ear), I would embrace on this blog.

Just a note:  Please be respectful though and don't spam me.  Please review the comment policy above if you have any doubts. 

1)  Tinnitus Miracle - Eliminate Tinnitus In 2 Months
2)  Ringing The Ear - Causes, Resources and Research
3)  Relaxing Ocean Wave Sounds on iTunes - White noise to help Tinnitus

Blog Post & Images (c) 8/24/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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  1. Well, I just know how annoying this song goin on in my ears,is. I have learned to deal with it, by reading lips...joking? NOT!! I'm glad that you have given us some interesting information on this subject. I have been stalling a visit to an E N & Throat doctor, cause I think there is no cure. Having the loss of peace & serenity, just listening to raindrops falling down, sucks!! I now use the radio, to fall asleep. Now, if it could only stop my brain from the thinking, but no, that part you must exercise. Dara Rodell

  2. Thanks Dara. It's tough not hearing all the highs & the lows in music anymore... but I still think I hear more than most people, just because I allow it. I also know what you mean about trying to shut off the brain. Now that's not easy!

  3. wow, thank heavens...I don't have sounds all the time, but sometimes when I am in loud places or talking on a phone with excessive loud people I can hear ringing in my ears....but, my gosh I did not know people who have this heard sounds all day and all the time. Possibly a small damage to a part of the ear due to large noise is the issue here and the ear being so sensitive that there is really no help yet, but hopefully not too far in the future....thank you..

  4. @Dara - I feel for you all. Thanks for sharing what you did. It helps those of us understand this a little more and just how difficult it is to communicate with people that have ringing in the ear.

  5. when I read articles like this, I am aware of many diseases and problems in the world. it is scary and it makes me happy to be healthy. I can not imagine how it would be annoying to always hear ringing in your ears!

  6. I've had ringing in the ears since I can remember and all the nerve endings in my ears that pick up consonants are dead so I have about a 70% hearing loss.

    The most important things that are said are often whispered.

    Also, of all handicaps, not being able to hear puts a barrier up between you and most other people.

    They also think, because you are not catching it all, you are dumb.

    The ringing in the ears is the worse, sometimes it's so loud, it's maddening. But the doctors (I've been to several that are tops in ears) say that, that is just the way it is.

    Take heart, with stem cell research, maybe within the decade, medical science will conquer these hearing problems.

    Look at the positive, you can see, feel, walk, breathe, taste, etc.

    That is why I love to blog, because I can talk, I keyboard talk. :)

    Soft relaxing classical music seems to help. So does "white noise".

    Good luck to all.