The Truth About Tinnitus
What is tinnitus? What causes it? Do earplugs help tinnitus? So many questions! But have no fear, because, throughout this quick guide, we’re going to help you through every concern you’ve had regarding tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus involves a perception of what can only be described as phantom sounds that aren’t actually occurring in the physical world. Wondering if you’ve ever experienced this? Well, have you ever heard a“ringing” sound but couldn’t quite put your finger on where it was coming from? Tinnitus is pretty much that! It also has a wide variety of other sounds associated with it, including:
- Static or “White noise”
- Musical snippets
Due to the “inexistence” of these sounds, tinnitus becomes highly stressful for those who suffer from it. Want to learn more about tinnitus and stress, earplug solutions, and more? Read on!
Considering Tinnitus Symptoms
These noises are only perceptible to the individual and it varies in terms of volume and intensity. According to this study, approximately 1 in 4 people with tinnitus will describe their sounds as “loud”. You may be surprised, but many of us will experience tinnitus at some point. It can occur in many different ways, from a slight ringing or buzzing in your ear, to beeping, drilling and more. Tinnitus may happen after leaving a noisy environment into a quiet one or being exposed to loud noise for a certain period of time.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Is there a tinnitus cure? What causes it and how can we prevent it? It all depends. Potential causes of tinnitus include:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Hearing loss (not limited to people hearing issues)
- Neck, head, or ear injuries
- Earwax buildup
- In women, hormonal imbalances
- Thyroid disorder.s
- Cardiovascular disease
- Specific medication such as (but not limited to) diuretics, antidepressants, cancer medication, antibiotics, and others
Tinnitus and Stress
Believe it or not, tinnitus is very common in the USA. Approximately 10%-15% of adults will experience tinnitus. Moreover, suffering from a condition such as tinnitus can cause individuals high levels of stress.
Stress levels, as with everything else, will depend on the individual. If you are someone suffering from tinnitus and are already under high amounts of stress in other areas of your life, it’s likely that tinnitus will trouble you much more compared to somebody else with a more relaxed lifestyle. If you think you may be experiencing stress from tinnitus, there are a few solutions, but first, let’s recognize what stress feels like:
Recognizing Stress from Tinnitus:
Symptoms vary depending on the person. Some signs of stress include:
- Rapid Heartbeat.
- Feeling of muscles and body tension.
- Changes in breathing - sighing, yawning, shortness of breath.
- Nausea, churning stomach, or “butterflies”.
- Poor focus and concentration.
- Poor sleep.
Recognizing Stress in Behavior:
- Feeling apathetic towards activities you enjoy like reading, exercising, socializing, etc.
- Doing things to manage your stress like staying in bed more, drinking, smoking, using different methods of distractions (long periods on the phone, internet, watching TV, and social media).
How to Understand Tinnitus Stress and Cope
How can we comprehend the relationship between tinnitus and stress?
One way is to pay attention to your behaviors, physical responses, and feelings throughout the day. Paying attention to specific pieces of information is essential, and of course, it’s impossible to pay attention to everything that goes on during your day. In spite of this, the human brain can select where to direct our attention at specific times while filtering unnecessary information out.
Take the ticking of a clock as an example; it is repetitive and becomes practically unnoticeable after a period of time has passed. This is called “habituation”. On the other hand, if noise information is perceived as threatening it becomes difficult to filter out. As tinnitus is continuously perceived as threatening, your focus will be drawn to it more.
How can you manage tinnitus stress?
By paying more attention to your thoughts and following these steps:
- Be aware of specific situations and times when you become stressed by tinnitus.
- Ask yourself what thoughts or situations caused you to stress during that time. What were you going through? Write it down.
- Evaluate your thoughts. What’s the worst that could happen? What would you say to a friend with the same problem? What would a close friend tell you?
By following this simple activity, you will start to develop positive thinking and thoughts to recognize stress. This will allow you to appreciate the shifting messages about yourself and reduce the impact of tinnitus in your life.
Coping with Stress & Tinnitus Symptoms
Do earplugs help tinnitus? Well, using earplugs can greatly help with preventing your tinnitus from worsening, and therefore, reducing your stress. If you are suffering from tinnitus, protect yourself from further hearing loss.
Of course, with certain earplugs, it will become difficult to enjoy music, a conversation, or awareness of surroundings. Nobody wants that!
High-fidelity earplugs solve that problem. They don’t absorb or block sounds. “Musician’s” earplugs work with filters that reduce dB (decibel) levels without distorting them. This way, you can still enjoy music, hold conversations, and maintain awareness, at a lower and safer volume.
Here are some available High-fidelity earplug options:
- Reusable: Affordable “one-size-fits-all” option offering a noise reduction of anywhere from 15-22dB.
- Custom-made: These can be molded specifically to your ears by an audiologist. In comparison to one-size-fits-all earplugs, this is more expensive but may provide a higher level of comfort.
Most high-fidelity earplugs will include a portable keychain carrying case. This makes it convenient for keeping your earplugs with you at all times. As soon as you start noticing loud noises, even if not harmful, pop them in!
The truth about tinnitus is that it can cause high levels of stress. However, by habituation, healthy thought processing, and the help of quality earplugs, you can still enjoy your hobbies, music, and work!