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The screaming in my ears won’t stop

Posted Oct 30 2008 6:02pm

I can’t shut down the noises inside my ears. I have been listening to non-stop roaring for the last 5 hours. But hey, it hasn’t bothered me too much. I know it will be gone by the morning.

What causes tinnitus? How can you stop it? Does it ever go away permanently?

Tinnitus is still not fully understood. There is no cure. Tinnitus is perception of sound when there is no apparent source of sound. It can be humming, whistling, ringing, buzzing, even music. It can come and go or be persistent. It can be high pitched, medium pitched, or low pitched, or a mixture of all three, or of more than one sound.

Over 5 million people in the UK suffer from tinnitus. It is thought to be caused by defective hearing - it’s not an illness or disease. Anyone can get tinnitus, not just old people, and it’s common after excessive exposure to loud noise. I was exposed to constant loud noise for the first few months of my life and as a result I lost most of my hearing. I have suffered tinnitus all of my life. As a child, it was so bad that I would bang my head against a wall to try to get rid of it. I had my head x-rayed numerous times to see if there was any physical cause - they didn’t find anything. Well, they *did* find my brain. As an adult, I have learned to cope with tinnitus and to largely ignore it. I find it gets worse if I am very tired or stressed, either I notice it more or it suddenly hits me at full blast (like today).

Common medical advice is to find a way to relax, to help the tinnitus become less noticeable. I find a good way of dealing with it, when it becomes intolerable, is to take some aspirin and have a nap. When I wake up, it has always gone. I think my best coping strategy is my mindset - I don’t let it stress me when it hits, I just roll with it - “oh yes, it’s back again, I wonder what tune the monster will try to play today!”

I know a lot of people who find tinnitus extremely difficult to cope with, it disturbs sleep, ruins concentration, destroys peace of mind, and even wrecks marriages.

If you have got tinnitus, what options are there?

  • GP - see your GP as they can refer you to a specialist
  • sound generator - this attempts to mask the tinnitus by playing sounds to distract from the tinnitus
  • holistic therapies - these treat the whole body, not just the part, and try to treat the cause of the problem
  • drugs - see you GP if you think any drugs you are taking may be causing tinnitus
  • relaxation - find a relaxing activity or exercise which you enjoy
  • tinnitus retraining therapy - contact the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre
  • sources of help - contact the British Tinnitus Association
  • So, what can you do to beat the tinnitus into submission?

  • Try to do more activities you enjoy, which take your mind off the tinnitus
  • Have some low-level noise in the background such as a radio or TV. I always have my TV on.
  • Try visual or aural games with the tinnitus, e.g. my tinnitus sometimes sounds like an orchestra, and I try to make it ‘play a tune’. This makes the tinnitus less stressful.
  • Try some relaxation every day - a bubble bath, massage, or relaxation exercises
  • Is something stressing you or worrying you? Try to sort this out and your tinnitus may recede.
  • Don’t WORRY about the tinnitus. Just live your life. Go out and enjoy it! Don’t give your tinnitus any attention.
  • There is hope. Action for Tinnitus Research are actively researching improved understanding and treatment of tinnitus. They also produce an email newsletter and booklets.

    I’ve managed to control the beast….. have you managed to control yours?

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