Recently, I was speaking with someone about my Tinnitus when they asked me, “Have you written about it?” After letting them know I haven’t, they responded, “why not?” I don’t have an answer to that other than I can’t write about everything, although it might seem like I do. Later, after thinking more about my Tinnitus battle and how frequently I peruse the internet in search of a cure, I decided to send this little post out into the blogosphere. The main reason is, that I haven’t read many posts/articles that share what living with Tinnitus is like.
Here are my thoughts on living with Tinnitus.
Living with Tinnitus sucks. It’s horrible. It’s annoying, induces anxiety, causes headaches, limits hearing, leads to restless nights, and distracts from everything going on around me. All the time. Every day. Constantly. The best way I can describe Tinnitus to those that haven’t dealt with it is it’s like when you see an action movie that has an explosion on screen. There’s usually a high-pitched noise that follows the explosion to share that the characters are having difficulties with their hearing. The sound goes away shortly after the explosion because you do not want to listen to that noise for the rest of the movie.
Tinnitus is a ringing sound in your ears that nobody else can hear, which can be maddening. I understand sometimes; it sounds like a clicking noise, a buzz, or even roaring. For me, it’s a high pitch ringing. The cause of Tinnitus ranges from exposure to loud music, sinus infection, and side-effect from medication, to more serious reasons such as a brain tumor, heart disease, and Meniere’s Disease. Or, in my case, no real concrete evidence of why Tinnitus occurred. It seems like most of the people I have spoken to share my Tinnitus journey.
When the ringing in my years began, I went to 3 different Otolaryngologists, which is a fancy title for an ear, nose, and throat doctor. I also visited 2 Audiologists. All my appointments shared with me that I had lost 30% of my hearing and as far as a cure for Tinnitus goes, I was probably out of luck and that it could go away or stick around for life. Also, I was informed that my hearing loss will increase. When I asked what I could do, I was told that some people with Tinnitus have found improvement using B Vitamins and Zinc.
After picking up enormous bottles of Zinc and B Vitamins at Costco, along with Gingko Bilboa and Magnesium, because I read online that those helped as well, I began taking all of them daily. Besides the daily handful of vitamins, I also tried acupuncture. Acupuncture was great for my long list of ailments but had no impact on the ringing in my ears. I also picked up ear drops at the pharmacy because the box said it was “Clinically proven to help with Tinnitus.” None of it brought relief.
I’m not against trying all those things listed above. In fact, I still take the vitamins in the hope they help. For me, the drops were a waste of money. The only thing that has helped me deal with Tinnitus is a breathing exercise I do when I am feeling anxious. I breathe in for 4 seconds through my nose, hold my breath for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhale. It doesn’t make the noise go away, but it helps me deal with it. And at night, I take medication to help me fall asleep.
Every week, I check to see if there are advancements in treating Tinnitus. During one of my searches last year, I came across a company in Ireland called Neuromod. I read their study about a new device they created called Lenire, that treats Tinnitus by sending impulses to the tip of the tongue while headphones pair sounds with the pulses. I don’t understand exactly how it works, but I love that 86.2% of the people that participated in the study said their Tinnitus had improved. As I researched more about the company and even reached out to them, I learned they were waiting on approval from the FDA. Out of all the websites I have searched in hopes of a cure for Tinnitus, this has given me the most hope. Let’s hope the device gets approved soon so we can try it.
Tinnitus is one of those forgotten diseases because it can’t be seen. Similar to my battle with migraines, since people can’t see the discomfort or pain, they can’t understand what we’re going through unless they themselves have gone through something similar. Tinnitus also doesn’t get covered that often, even though 45 million Americans suffer from Tinnitus. Some of the Tinnitus suffers that I have spoken with have even considered suicide as a way to escape. Others have used alcohol and drugs as a means to quiet the noise. I’m hoping that more of us with Tinnitus will share stories and it will inspire companies to get behind a cure.