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What is tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of external stimuli,meaning a person affected by tinnitus hears sounds no one else does. The sounds vary greatly from; whistling, hissing, ringing, buzzing and even a roaring. It can be cicadas, crickets, jet engines, sirens, drums or even like a distant radio playing. Tinnitus can come and go or be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For a peek at what tinnitus sounds like, click on this link. Those who have tinnitus might not hear the computer sounds but those who have good hearing will be surprised by the intensity of it.

Millions of people are affected by tinnitus and there is no known cure. Some of the causes of tinnitus are: noise induced (many of our veterans, concerts and MP3 players with earbuds), conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, ototoxic drugs, Meniere’s disease, auto immune diseases, TMJ, head injuries, and more. Doctors don’t know what to do and too often tell those seeking help, “There’s nothing we can do about it. Learn to live with it,” and offer no suggestions.

Live with it? Live with it how?

Tinnitus is all invasive; a constant and unwanted companion. There are sleepless nights with no peace and long days. Not even exhaustion assures a good night sleep the following nights. Too many nights of no sleep leaves a person addled, irritated and desperate. Depression is not uncommon. (Antidepressants can help.) So how to live with tinnitus?


Twenty years ago, habituate was the keyword; to change the behavior towards tinnitus… not an easy task and it takes time. In the meantime, how can a person get some sleep with all that racket inside their head? Soft music helps a lot. Turning on a fan or a water feature can lessen the impact of tinnitus also. Peaceful nights are best but having some noise helps override the tinnitus. The more pleasant the noise, the easier it is to focus on it than the ringing.

Fortunately there are more treatments available today than ever.

  • Tinnitus specialists are scattered over the United States, the American Tinnitus Association has a list here.
  • Diet can agitate tinnitus so try avoiding caffeine, sugar, salt and alcohol. Smoking could have something to do with it as well as medications (link to ototoxic medications at bottom).
  • Becoming over tired can make tinnitus worse. To avoid screaming tinnitus, make sure you get plenty of rest.
  • There are tinnitus applications for smart phones, some are free and others have a small cost. Just to name a few: Sleep Stream 2, Tinnitus Relief, Tinnitus Pro and Simply Noise. My personal favorite is Sleep Stream 2, I use this program for stress relief as well as tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids help drown out tinnitus. Other experimental therapies out there for tinnitus are: biofeedback, cognitive therapy, sound therapy and TMJ treatment.

For 25 years now, I’ve dealt with tinnitus. I hear cicadas, crickets and a high pitched squeal all the time. Other sounds pop in now and then like a bird chirping and a low tone. After a few years, I made friends with my tinnitus as crazy as it sounds. I hear it always but it doesn’t bother me so much anymore. Tinnitus may feel like the end of the world but don’t give up. With time, it gets easier to handle. Be a survivor.

For those who have tinnitus, how have you dealt with it?


A lot of this information comes from a class I took at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing featuring Jodi Goodenough. She has a Facebook group.

American Tinnitus Association

A list of Ototoxic drugs

Some Famous People With Tinnitus

7 thoughts on “Tinnitus”

  1. I’ve had it constantly since I was a kid (actually, it’s the reason my hearing loss was first diagnosed), but its never really bothered me much. I can tune it out most of the time and only really notice it when I there is no other noise or I am actively paying attention to what I am hearing (such as when they are testing my hearing). My first hearing aids (circa 2004 Oticon Tego Pro) helped with my tinnitus a lot, my new ones (Phonak Naida CRT- on trial) don’t seem to help much at all. We tried to mess with it, I thought it might be the compression, but changing that didn’t seem to do much. In the end, I think it might be because I am closing in on profound in my tinnitus frequency, I’ll just have to live with it.

    I’m going to have to check out the apps you mentioned. Sorry to everyone else I don’t have any good tips.

  2. Pingback: Therapies To Ease Tinnitus Torment | My Health and BeautyMy Health and Beauty

  3. Pingback: What does your tinnitus sound like? « Hearing Wellbeing

  4. For example, it acts as an antioxidant that most likely reduces the odds of nervous system disorder,
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