What Is That Noise!?! – My Take on Living with Tinnitus

Do you hear that?  I often ask my family that question.  Sometimes I can’t tell if the noise I am hearing is my tinnitus or if the sound is actually there. Usually, it is all in my head.  Typically, I know this, to be honest, but I ask anyway, just in case.

I have a 40-50% hearing loss in both of my ears, but only mild tinnitus.  I am grateful for that.  Sometimes I feel that the tinnitus is worse than the hearing loss!  Unexplained sounds buzzing and whistling in your head can make you question your sanity.  And give you the worst headache known to man.  The lack of sound seems almost a relief in retrospect.

Thus far, I have experienced two types of tinnitus. The first has been occurring on and off for several years and is not that troublesome.  I am not sure what the trigger is, or even if there is a trigger, but all of a sudden, I will hear a sound like a fluorescent light was just turned on, followed by a high-pitched beeeeeeeep that lasts for 30-60 seconds.  It will often start softly, build to a crescendo, and then taper off, like someone has turned the fluorescent light back off.  It happens in noise and in silence.  It comes and it goes, maybe once or twice a week.  Strange, but not bad.

But recently, a new type of tinnitus has started, and this one is more debilitating. Again, I’m not sure if there is a specific trigger, but it seems to happen more often after I am exposed to rhythmic loud noises (like a bathroom fan) or to bright lights.  It starts suddenly, is much louder than my friend the fluorescent light, and can continue for an hour or more.  It is exhausting.  I cannot think.  I can’t hear what people are saying to me over the ringing. I want to lie down, but sometimes that is not possible.  I work to focus on the real sounds around me and carry on.

The best way to counteract my tinnitus that I have found is to watch TV or to play music softly in the background.  Any sort of white background noise will do.  It needs to be just loud enough to cover up the ringing, but quiet enough so it does not drown out the real sounds around me.  Distracting myself can also help – things like reading an engrossing book, or working on this blog.  Tricking myself into thinking about something else can make the sound drift into the background and become less consuming.  Sometimes the ringing will even go away without my noticing specifically that it ends.

Does my worsening tinnitus mean my hearing is getting worse?  My recent audiogram says otherwise, but I still worry.  Will my tinnitus take another turn for the worse?  I hope not.  These are worries that I have, but I cannot spend time on them. I can only focus on living each day the best that I can.

Readers, what strategies do you have for living with tinnitus?

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75 thoughts on “What Is That Noise!?! – My Take on Living with Tinnitus

    • Anything that would help lessen the high pitch ringing that is always there. Iv had this for many years. I attribute this to being around equipment in the construction trades and from firing guns without hearing muffs. Im 61 years old and I try to tell younger people to protect their hearing by using protection to lessen the loud constant noise you are subjected to in the construction trades. Also listening to music played to loud. Most places that have live music, are playing it way to loud. Rock and roll is usually always plays it to loud. It is part of the reason I suffer from tinnitus. My hearing is ok except for the bass sounds. I had a hearing test done by a professional. Any help would be great. I can not afford hearing devise that would lessen the loud ringing in my ears.

  1. Good article. Many people don’t know about tinnitus and yet it is affecting more people today than ever with our loud world. When I first got it, thought I had a tumor and had not heard of tinnitus. Relieved to find out what it was, but not really, since not too much you can do for it. Over time have gotten used to it. Wear hearing aids now and that does relieve it somewhat. I have lived with it now for about 20 years and the best advice I have is to find what works for you. TV or soft music while going to sleep, no aspartame(may raise volume) and hearing aids are some examples. Tinnitus is more common than people know, but not talked about enough. Jean

  2. I suffer from tinnitus for like 4 years now. It seems to be stable with ups and downs! For me it feels like it has a lot to do with my neck, tension/stress and such. I try to ignore it but sometimes it feels like: “don’t think about an elephant” and guess what you will be thinking off? 😉
    Besides that i try to increase my knowledge about it. To understand better what it is and if there is something that could help. At the moment i am actually doing my master with which i hope to specialize myself in treating patients with tinnitus through manual therapy. I hope, i will not only be able to help myself but also many others! Because i really know how frustating it can be.
    All the best! Robin

  3. When I used to get asked at the audiologist if I had tinnitus I always said no. Even when I was doing the tests and I struggled to seperate the beeps in the audiogram from the ringing in my ears I never twigged ! I would have to really concentrate to seperate real noise from the noise in my head. Now I realise that maybe I have had this all the time albeit a mild form. My ears are ringing now as I type but I don’t actively listen to it it’s just there and it’s piercing if I do start to think about it. Some times I get an amplified version that lasts for a minute or two and then it drops back down. At night it’s the dreaded hum ! I’ve always had it thankfully it’s a very mild form and it’s not got worse. Reading how other people suffer something really needs to be done to help them. Good for you to share your experience.

  4. I’ve had tinnitus for as long as I can remember. It is mild, a quiet buzzing in the background. Most of the times I can ignore it. For me, background noise makes it worse. I love it when I can turn off the tv, radio, computers and just have quiet. The buzzing is still there, but it is not competing with other noise. I have not had my hearing checked, but I am certain I have some hearing loss. People are beginning to ‘mumble’, especially if there is a lot of background noise going on. My husband has learned that if he wants to talk to me, he needs to mute the television.

  5. I’ve had tinnitus for years didn’t know what it was till I went to a hearing specialist and he explained it to me. My hearing is still good even after 21 years flying in the navy. But the constant ringing is annoying and stress seems to make it worse.

  6. I’ve been hard of hearing my entire adult life, but only got tinnitus a few years ago after being exposed to a brief incident of very loud noise. It has never stopped ringing since that one incident.

    Before the tinnitus, I was okay with my hearing loss, because although I had communication challenges, I just experienced a lot of quiet and silence. Once I got the tinnitus, my peacefulness came to an abrupt halt and it was startling! It was driving me crazy and I went from fear, to anger, to depression, and after about a year, I finally reached acceptance and I stopped resisting it. It became much easier after that.

    I now accept that this is part of my life, and will be for as long as I live. Other people are dealing with worse things, and tinnitus is not fatal. I used to dread waking up in the morning to the loud ringing. Now when I wake up and notice, I say to myself, “Oh yes, I’m still alive,” and accept my tinnitus as a positive sign that I’m still alive. (This is now the sound of my life.) If I consciously think about the tinnitus, I recognize it, but otherwise, it pretty much fades into the background, and life is good. It all got easier once I found acceptance and stopped making it my object of focus.

  7. I’ve had tinnitus in one ear for 25 years. It has been one of the more disappointing things about losing my hearing – that it is replaced with this maddening noise. sometimes it is so loud and stressful that it has made me cry. Other times I manage to ignore it. It has woken me up at night and also kept me from falling asleep. The more hearing I lose, the louder and more “busy” the sound has become.

    Usually there is a dominant note amidst the chaos of the sound…either and A or an E… i have actually blogged about it too!
    My brother recently began having tinnitus due to having been on antibiotics and has found a sound machine at night helps mask it. I haven’t tried that yet.

  8. My 24 year old son suffers from tinnitus as well as hearing loss. They have explained that his hearing loss is hereditary.. And it was our understanding that hearing loss causes tinnituts. The brain makes up the loss in certain sounds with its own made-up sound. Such as ringing, humming, under water etc. Is this how it has been explained others?

  9. I’m a US Navy veteran and I’ve had tinnitus for 2 years. I have hearing aids and batteries for life provided by the Navy. I take Trazidone at night to help me sleep. Follow me on Twitter @scottlara1961

  10. I have had it for over 20 years and it gets louder every year I have tried everthing but nothing works does anyone else get an explosion and a severe shake in the head ive tried to explain it to my doctor but unless you have tinnitus they have no clue how it affects you day to day living

  11. It starts suddenly, is much louder than my friend the fluorescent light, and can continue for an hour or more.  It is exhausting.  I cannot think.  I can’t hear what people are saying to me over the ringing. I want to lie down, but sometimes that is not possible.  I work to focus on the real sounds around me and carry on.

  12. I have had a realy loud ringing for years now its so bad that i have learned to lip read . i have had all the tests but i cannot afford the hearing equipment the only relife i get is the split second just as you fall asleep . has enyone had what feels like an explosion every so often its quite frightening my whole body shakes for a se

  13. Wow so many people with this, I often joke to my wife if the noise stopped I would be lonely, it’s the vertigo that can be a problem, but thankfully not often, the noise never stops, and you learn to accept it .

  14. Do you have any thoughts — or might you solicit thoughts from your blog readers — on the value, if any, of various treatments for tinnitus? I’ve noticed that there are several over the counter products now being marketed. Question is: do they have ANY value?

    • Thanks for your question. I have a post on this topic coming up in the next month regarding meditation and tinnitus and my experience with it. I invite others to comment as well on their experiences. Hope that helps and stay tuned!

  15. Every now and then, and especially after I fly, I get a ringing that is very annoying. Luckily it goes away for me. My empathy to those that have tinnitus all the time!

  16. Very interesting read. I’m never heard of Tinnitus before and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I hope that you are able to find more ways to deal with it. Thank you for sharing this. I’m passing it along.

  17. My husband has this, too. Unfortunately, he has had to just learn to live with it. Thanks for posting this, it helps to hear from others. Sometimes there is a remedy that has worked for someone else. I am busy reading all of the responses.

  18. My brother has the “crickets” sound in hie ears, but he has also been diagnosed with Meunair’s (sp?) disease. He has a profound hearing loss as well. I have just the noise which is always there, sometimes louder, sometimes softer. However, I don’t believe I have a hearing loss; I was tested two years ago. Now having read your blog and all the responses, I think I will have it tested again.

  19. I have had tinnitus in my left ear for years. I asked the Dr when it was going to go away. He said when your hearing bottoms out. I guess when I can’t hear anymore. I hate it!

  20. I thank you for sharing your experience and creating this blog. It made my journey with tinnitus easier. I’m Ed and from the Philippines. I sing and I make conference reports, two things in which hearing is important. I recently developed tinnitus in my left ear. My doctor said it was noised-induced. I can still hear with my left ear and the hearing loss is concentrated on high pitched sounds. I am grateful that mine is mild since I can only hear it in quiet instances. But it does bother me. Here in my country, there is no support group for those living with tinnitus. So reading your blog is a ray of light for me. One of the things you wrote struck me: “Tricking myself into thinking about something else can make the sound drift into the background and become less consuming.” I think this is the best trick, to make that sound fall into the background to the point that we don’t notice it anymore. Can you be my support group? Thank you and God bless.

  21. Not sure if I was born with tinnitus or not but I’ve had it since my earliest memories. As a child I was always afraid of the dark because I couldn’t hear anything sneaking up on me. Couldn’t hear birds or crickets. Couldn’t hear my mother calling me from another room.

    I could ‘cheat’ hearing tests in school because all they did was play that sound. I would concentrate on all the noise in my head and when I’d hear something different, I’d raise my hand. If I hadn’t concentrated, I’d probably have been diagnosed with a hearing disability in grade school. Instead, I was in my mid 20’s before I found out that ringing in my ears wasn’t normal.

    The only thing that masks it is white noise, but white noise sounds the same so it’s just as irritating to me. The louder the noise gets around me, the louder the ringing gets. Sometimes in the quiet of the night, the ringing increases and I just want to cut off my head so I don’t hear it anymore.

    It’s frustrating. Especially when someone asks me “Can you hear that?” And I say “hear what? I always hear something.”

  22. This might also works for other Tinnitus sufferer out there, I am 38 years old, I suffered from permanent tinnitus for about 10 years, mostly in my right ear… which means I’ve got this constant ringing in my ears, which has also made me somewhat deaf. It’s like this Whee! noise in my head all the time. My T was more steady, this is due to prolonged exposure to the loud volume of concerts. Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I wish I’d thought about it earlier. There were days when I didn’t know whether I would survive, I was so tormented by this symptoms. When I lay down to sleep it bothers me the most, As I lay my head on the pillow, it cancels out all the other noise but the Tinnitus. The GoodNews is that after using William Herbal medicine, Tinnitus is gone, try it also it may work for you. There are real cure indeed and do not be discouraged. Hang in there… Better days will come for you too (email: drwilly37@gmail.com).

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I am glad that you have found something that works for you. Others have not had as much luck with herbal medications. For me, meditation helps the most. Best of luck to you!

  23. I have been reading these comments and some of your posts. I have tinnitus and have had for over 25 yrs from taking a certain type of medication. Recently it notched up by a lot, got a feeling of fullness in my ear and discovered I could not hear very well at all in my left ear. The tinnitus sometimes is not too bad, but for the most part it is near overwhelming during the day. Fortunately for me my CPAP I use for sleep apnea drowns it out at night.
    Tinnitus is made worse with things like Aspirin, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil, salt use, and salt also makes vertigo worse. I can always tell when I’ve eaten too much salt.
    Thank you for sharing your story and struggles.

  24. I don’t even know what is Tinnitus … despite I have hearing loss for 20 years and been using hearing aids since then lol until I read this article, I instantly get it.

    Its strange sound like someone make a sound of “metal/copper bell” you got what I mean. Its really unique sound to me, I can instantly identify it “oh its my weird sound inside my ears”.

    I never ask anyone “hey there strange sound something?”.

    Its start from low-quiet then climb up louder and then its taper down to low-quiet and disappears.

    I don’t know what trigger it as well, its just out of no where but my case is probably “not mild” at all, its came and gone in like 20-30 secs. Its not happens often too. Really rare.

    Oh wait, when I exercise very hard, there high chance this weird “tinnitus” will appears. When my heart is pumping hard, its will come.

    But I never be trouble by it, its just came and gone, quick, just like that.

    And there only “one”, I instantly know that my “unique sound inside the ears” when its happens.

  25. I am 52, my dad always said that his ears were ringing so loud he couldn’t sleep and he would sit up at his desks for nights before he would go to his bed to be able to finally sleep. I now understand why. I will go 2 night without sleeping and on that third afternoon be so wore out that I cant hardly sit up, and finally sleep will come. My brain cant go to sleep with this noise always on,, I cant seem to comprehend what I read if I am trying to learn something new, like I used to..I have to really study it, and go over it a few times, where when I was younger things just stuck in my head….Also I have also noticed that “Long Life Lights”make my ears ring so loudly and high pitched and my head hurts till I get nauseous, turning them off doesn’t work we have to take them out of the socket. I have resorted to finding the old fashioned kind and or construction grade to use in my house. I wish Drs were more understanding as to how this disables a persons life. Hopefully we will all have some relief come to us soon.

    • I am so sorry for your troubles. Tinnitus can be very debilitating. Have you tried any white noise therapy or meditation? Meditation is the thing I have found to help. Best of luck to you and your father.

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