The Realities of Tinnitus and Hearing Impairment

The Inner Ear
The Inner Ear
The Ear
The Ear
Earing Aid
Earing Aid
Tinnitus:from the  GoldBamboo website
Tinnitus:from the GoldBamboo website
Tinnitus funny:from the  GoldBamboo website
Tinnitus funny:from the GoldBamboo website

Living with Tinnitus

Three years ago, I noticed a constant buzzing in my left ear. When it first started I assumed that I had an ear infection which would clear up in several days. I did not even seek medical attention immediately. After a month of constant buzzing, I decided to make an appointment to see my doctor. She did the preliminary checks, and referred me to an ENT specialist. The specialist conducted several audio tests and determined that I had tinnitus and about 75% hearing loss in my left ear.

According to eHealthMD, tinnitus is noise that originates within the ear rather than from the outside environment. The sounds have been described variously as a "ringing" sound, a "buzzing" sound, a "humming noise, "like running water", a "whistling" sound or like the "sound from a seashell held close to the ear." http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/tinnitus/tin_whatis.html For me, when the tinnitus is at its loudest, it sounds like the hum of an airplane. When it is low, it sounds like static.

EHealthMD states that tinnitus can be caused by middle ear infection, hypertension, anemai or onset of Meniere's disease. Tinnitus can aslo be triggered by medications, such as Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, chemotheraphy and anti-viral drugs. (Wikepedia). Some believe that tinnitus can be triggered by stress, which would be secondary to another diagnosis, for example in my case high blood pressure.

The news of tinnitus or my hearing loss did not sit well with me. I immediately thought of the stigma of hearing loss. Over the last seven years I have observed that I did not hear phone conversation very well with my left ear, I just assumed I had a preference for my right ear. I was in denial. On review of my medical history, I remembered that my maternal grandmother was said to be hard of hearing. She was never officially diagnosed. The family assumed so because she spoke loudly and usually turn up the radio or television to high volume. I can also remember on at least one occasion when after a concert, my ears were ringing. Usually when travelling by plane, my ears hurt during take off and descent. Sometimes after a trip by airplane, I would feel like I had swimmer's ears for several days after a trip.

I had so many questions: what is tinnitus? What did the hearing loss mean? Can it be treated or cured? Why did it happen? Do I have to use hearing aid? The specialist was not able to answer these questions conclusively because he did not know what was causing the hearing deficit or the tinnitus. He arranged for me to see another audiologist to do some more detailed hearing tests. This would determine what was the cause or remedial course of action for the tinnitus and hearing loss. I also did an MRI to rule out a tumour.

Stress and Tinnitus: Around five years ago, I was going through some major stressors at work and in my personal life. I was adjusting to married life and raising a young child as well as dealing with some challenging circumstances at work. During that time I had several migraine headaches and had to seek medical advice about that. My doctor told me that I was borderline hypertensive and recommended medication. I chose to try some alternatives such as reducing my stress level, losing some weight and exercising more regularly. If that did not work, then I'd take medication for the high blood pressure. Those measures worked to control my hbp for awhile. Three years ago, however, I was experiencing another major stressful time in my personal (death of my grandmother) and work life (restructure), this was the onset of tinnitus.

I have been living with tinnitus for the last three years. I noticed that the buzzing in my ear was very low and almost undetectable some mornings and when I was on vacation. It was the loudest at the end of a busy day or if I became very anxious or nervous about something. During the times when it get too loud, I had difficulty concentrating. These observations have led to identifying the correlation between stress and tiredness to the severe effects of tinnitus.

Challenges of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss: Sometimes I have difficulties processing information when in a large group setting, especially when many people are talking. I sometimes shy away from social events because I may not hear everything that's being said and have to ask people to repeat themselves or respond inappropriately to someone. I feel that I may miss important information that is relayed verbally. My sense of sound in relation to direction is off, for instance, if the phone to my left rings, I hear it only in my right ear, therefore would assumed that it was the phone to my right. Sometimes people get annoyed with me because they think that I am ignoring them if I do not respond to them. Frankly, I am embarrassed about my hearing loss. I know that it could happen to anyone, but I feel like it is a deficiency.

Work Life Balance: Fortunately for me, I was able to downsize work to create some work life balance opportunities that allow me to continue doing a job that I love and fulfill my other obligations, such as childcare. That has helped to reduce some of the stress related to commuting to work on a daily basis. I use to drive about 90 kilometres to work each day, which means that in rush hour traffic, it would take me over an hour each way to and from work. When you factor in weather conditions, such as snow, then the commute is sometimes doubled. I now work mostly from home, going into the office once or twice per week. I take time to de-stress and reduce my anxiety about life's challenges. Whenever I take care of myself, I notice that the tinnitus is very low, even undetectable.

Life with tinnitus and hearing loss is something that I deal with on a daily basis. I am determined not to become a victim of this ailment. I take measures to control it as I continue to lead a successful life.

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Comments 12 comments

frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Dynamic - I have it, left ear. I don't know the origins. My dad and brother also suffer with it. I have the high-frequency ring. Mostly I can ignore it. I don't know about the ear loss side. I wouldn't let my doctor send me for further treatment, beyond the initial diagnosis. I was aware that in some cases - further treatment can potentially create a worse problem.

I'm sorry yours is so bad. It's a strange affliction. Our village postie committed suicide two years ago, due to tinnitus. His was chronic, which led to severe depression.

Good article, well written, rated up.


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Frogdropping, thanks for your kind support. Sorry to hear about the village postie. Like you, I don't know the origin as well. I have found ways to adjust to it. I find that it gets worst (louder) when I am very stressed or fatigued. Very few people know that I have the problem.

Again, thanks for your comment.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Dynamic - you're welcome. Like I said, mine's currently not too bad. In fact I can 'hear' it now because I'm thinking about it. Mine seems to remain the same, so far anyway.


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

You are fortunate; I hope it remains that way. I strongly believe mine is related to my high blood pressure. Anyway, today it is actually low. Life is beautiful. I can hear the birds chirping and my neighbour's dog barking, so life is good...


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

You are fortunate; I hope it remains that way. I strongly believe mine is related to my high blood pressure. Anyway, today it is actually low. Life is beautiful. I can hear the birds chirping and my neighbour's dog barking, so life is good...


Daniel Carter profile image

Daniel Carter 7 years ago from Western US

I've had ringing in my ears for almost 30 years now. I have about a 25% hearing loss in both ears, from the last check up, about 12 years ago. I think my hearing loss may be progressive, but very slow. I'm glad for that because I'm a composer songwriter. I've tried several things (none of them prescription) to try to improve the condition, but nothing seems to help. There are some advertised "cures" but after reading the ingredients list in most, I would think that good old vitamins would be more cost effective.

So far, so good with me, all in all. I don't hear music the way I used to with the clarity I'd like, but I'm hanging in there, and composing up a storm and am still active in the musical community. I hope it remains so.

Thanks for the article.


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hi Daniel, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it because sometimes I forget that other people may have similar experience. I can appreciate how tinnitus and a slight hearing loss could impact your music career, but you persevere. You are an inspiration to me.

I am optimistic that my condition will not get worst - it is good news to know that you have been living for 30 years with the condition.

Thank you for sharing. You are now a fan...


Alan 7 years ago

I have talked with physicians. Apparently, I have an unusual case of tinnitus as I have experienced it since childhood. It seems as if a significant portion of my inner ear receptor cells were damaged by very loud sounds when I was young. It's the kind of thing that certain factory workers experienced before they were required to wear ear protectors. I just happened to experience the loud noises when I was young. The ringing is a very loud whistle that has become more problematic as I get older. Perhaps because I experienced the problem at an early age, I can pretty much ignore it.

I have to go now, I think there is a kettle of tea ready on the stove. For the life of me I can't remember putting it on to boil.


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Alan, thanks for sharing. Wow! you have been living with tinnitus since childhood. I heard that some people have to do theraphy to tune it out. Mine has not got to that point yet...I hope it never does.

Unfortunately, the doctors are not conclusive how I got mine. They are not sure if it was an inner ear infection or related to my high blood pressure. Any way, I am encouraged that others, like yourself are leading a normal life with this condition.

I have developed ways to cope with mine as I feel that it is strongly linked to the hbp and stress.

Thanks for sharing...


franciaonline profile image

franciaonline 7 years ago from Philippines

Hi DynamicS,

Thumbs up for this informative hub. I am now your fan.


franciaonline profile image

franciaonline 7 years ago from Philippines

 


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

franciaonline, thanks for being a fan and for your kind comment. I look forward to read your hubs.

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