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I have Tinnitus. What is it?

I have what I guess is likely to be a milder form of Tinnitus, but it’s still there all the time.  For every second of every day, it keeps me company through thick and thin.

My tinnitus is like that of 1 minute 44 on the video below, with just a higher pitch.  It used to be combined with the heart pulse noise immediately after that, but after suffering with it for two years, the pulsing tinnitus has eased off a lot.  I suspect that was more down to an inflamed inner ear than actual tinnitus itself as I have a nerve very close to my main vein, according to my ENT specialist who tried to pin it down for me a few years ago.  At about 3 minutes 55, is how highly pitched mine is.

What is Tinnitus?

Simply, it’s a blooming nuisance.  It’s loud, always there and drives me to distraction when I’m trying to sleep.

In acceptable terms, it’s a loud noise we feel in our ears, causing noise in our heads.    The noise can be:

Buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing, whistling, beating, throbbing…. You get the picture?

There are different forms of Tinnitus that are more rare.  The pulsatile kind that I used to also have, has an easier explanation with the real heartbeat to cause the feeling.  Some people even have musical hallucinations, where they hear whole songs.

What causes Tinnitus?

Loud noise probably helps it along, and it’s the one thing everyone seems to think about with Tinnitus, but it’s only one factor.  I’ve had very mild Tinnitus since my late teens.  The worst thing about it, is knowing, that never again in your life, will you experience total silence.  That’s actually quite distressing at times, though I have learned to live with it most of the time.  I dread how bad it must be for those who have severe Tinnitus with extremely loud noise.

I can pin down the worst of my Tinnitus to the time the pulsing started in one ear.  Those two years were horrific.  I couldn’t sleep, my head felt fuzzy, and as if I were hearing through cotton wool.  I went to doctor after doctor, appointment after appointment, always being told there was nothing wrong, then one day, I woke up, the ear popped and the worst of the pulsating disappeared.  What I was left with, was an increased level of Tinnitus in my right ear, with the same level of my high pitched whistling Tinnitus in the left as before.  My Tinnitus is now very lopsided.

I have some degree of hearing loss in my left ear, but it’s not too major.  It’s certainly liveable with.  For me, the worst Tinnitus was caused by inner ear damage.

The NHS says this about inner ear damage:  “If part of the cochlea is damaged, it will stop sending information to parts of your brain. These areas of the brain will then actively ‘seek out’ signals from parts of the cochlea that still work. These signals are over-represented in the brain and cause the sounds of tinnitus.”

There are other things that could cause Tinnitus, such as earwax, infection, a perforated eardrum and yes, those dreadful loud noises as a child / young adult, when we thought we were invinceable.

How to Treat Tinnitus

Sadly, there isn’t really any way to treat it that’s actually helpful.  The only thing I’ve found is distracting myself from it.

Although mine is there all the time, there are some points in the day when I’m more conscious of it than others.

If you’ve blocked ears etc, some medical intervention might help, but for many of us, it’s simply a case of managing the noise in our ears.

I notice the noise most when it’s quiet.  The noise feels all encompassing then.  It’s so loud, that in the absence of other noise, I can’t possibly imagine being able to hear anything else on to of the sound, yet at the drop of a pin, I can hear it through the other noise in my ears.  I’m not quite sure how to describe that, but it’s very deceiving.

I’m getting used to my noise.  Mine is annoying, but not debilitatingly so.  I can blot some of it out.  Bedtime is difficult as I have to sleep on the worst affected ear.  Somehow, it helps to drown the noise out to lay on it.  On really bad nights, especially if I have a cold, I tend to use music under my pillow, making a noise I can hear through the high pitched hissy singing tone.

The Future

Well, mine isn’t going to get any better.  I really do have to learn to live with it, and be prepared for the time I could get worse.

I deliberately stay away from loud noises, in case it makes the problem even that teensy bit worse.  If you invited me to a disco, I’d probably have ear plugs in, well hidden under my hair.  I might have to ask you to repeat what you’re saying, but at least my ears won’t deteriorate any further from loud music.

If you have Tinnitus, take care of the noise around you.  I suspect it really does matter.


5 thoughts on “I have Tinnitus. What is it?

  1. I have tinnitus and sympathise with you. I hear a high frequency “zing” all the time which is at the frequency where my hearing has deteriorated – possibly due to loud noise experienced in my teens. On the recommendation of an audiologist I use hearing aids which help me hear on the lost frequency and they do help.
    At night I use a white noise source – I bought a player from the tinnitus help group but you can get free apps on your phone. I play it just loud enough to be heard and it helps distract from the tinnitus.

  2. I was left with Tinnitus after having Menieres disease. The Menieres burned itself out and I am left with partial deafness in my right ear and Tinnitus, also in that ear. Mine tends to be a pulsating, fizzy sound which is much worse when its quiet, as you say. Loud noises also make my head feel fuzzy! I have had very little help from the medical profession and have been just left to get on with it. The permanence of it is hard to live with, as is the deafness which is annoying for other people and alienating for me, a hearing aid just made it feel worse.
    Thank you for highlighting this condition, its nice to know I’m not alone!

    1. Thanks for commenting. It’s a very lonely condition indeed.

  3. That must be horrible to live with. Big hugs x

  4. I have this and I’ve had it for nearly 30 years. I lost my hearing in my left ear when I was 19 and sometimes you just want to scream with it. Sometimes it’s so loud that it’s like a scream 🙁

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