I have been living with tinnitus for far more years than I can remember. When it first started is a mystery to me. It is certainly something that seems to have been there in the background for at least 30 years. It drastically predates my hearing loss diagnosis, which was just six years ago. There does seem to be evidence that my hearing loss happened during a 10-15 year period.
My suspicion is that my tinnitus was a result of two things. I listened to loud music in my twenties when I was in a band. I was also a lover of headphones turned up too loud. This was back in the ’80s before people knew the dangers of hearing loss and related conditions.
Read more: 10 Tips to Protect your Hearing
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, as it’s often called, can be harder to pinpoint and understand than actual hearing loss. For me, it was not evident as so much a noise but was more like a soundscape. Generally, my tinnitus takes the form of what to me sounds like a waterfall. Sometimes the sound can appear to be very close and other times at a distance.
Read more: Hearing Loss Simulator
For a great number of years I wasn’t even certain that I was suffering from tinnitus. Like most of the hearing community, I considered it something that deaf people experienced. Because I thought myself hearing, I attributed the noise to something else. At times I even convinced myself that it was simply a build-up of wax in my ears. It was only after talking with my audiologist that I realized that I had tinnitus. Looking back, it was easier for me to admit this to myself once I had been diagnosed as deaf and in need of intervention.
In the last five years or so, the sound appears to have become much louder. Most likely, however, the sound is the same, but my awareness has changed. About 90 percent of the time when I’m wearing my Phonak hearing aids, I can’t hear the tinnitus sounds at all. However, once I take out my hearing aids, the sound comes rushing in and seems very loud.
Read more: Who should I consult about my tinnitus treatment?
I used to find it difficult to sleep at night with the noise relentlessly carrying on throughout the night. It caused me many sleepless nights until I finally came up with a solution. One day I realized that the sound I was hearing whenever I tried to sleep was not unlike the sound generated from white noise generators used to aid sleep. Once I became aware of this, I began telling myself that the sound I was hearing was there to help me fall asleep.
It didn’t work straight away. But within a short time, I began to consider it as something of a comfort. Of course, this still only works at night. The rest of the time I hear it, it is still uncomfortable and annoying.
Because the sound is in the background, tinnitus can all too easily get in the way of normal every day life. For people with this condition, there is plenty of help available from retraining and sound machines to Cognitive Behaviural Therapy (CBT). Talk therapy can also be helpful because those with tinnitus often have anxiety, depression, or other disorders.
Tinnitus comes in many different ways and sounds. Mine may be very different from yours. The important thing to be aware of is that this is a very common condition and help is available.
If you or a loved one has tinnitus there are ways to treat the ringing in the ear. Learn more, about Phonak tinnitus solutions, here.