You hear plenty of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic ailments such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness that has a strong psychological element since it affects so many areas of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as phantom sounds in one or both ears. Most folks describe the noise as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically is not an illness but a symptom of an untreated medical issue like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million individuals from the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The ghost sound will start at the worst possible times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV show, attempting to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a great story. Tinnitus can act up even when you attempt to go to bed.
Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many people suffer from tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the brain creates this noise to balance the silence that accompanies hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing issue. Consider five ways that tinnitus is such a hardship.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent research indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus also have more activity in their limbic system of the mind. This system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until now, most specialists believed that individuals with tinnitus were stressed and that’s the reason why they were always so sensitive. This new research indicates there is much more to it than just stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus prickly and emotionally fragile.
2. Tinnitus is Hard to Explain
How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises coming from inside your head and not feel crazy when you say it. The helplessness to talk about tinnitus causes a divide. Even if you are able to tell somebody else, it’s not something that they truly can relate to unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they might not have the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means talking to a lot of people you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an attractive option to most.
3. Tinnitus is Bothersome
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not escape. It’s a distraction that many find debilitating whether they’re at the office or just doing things around the home. The ringing shifts your attention which makes it tough to stay on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, which makes you feel lethargic and worthless.
4. Tinnitus Impedes Sleep
This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The sound tends to get louder when a sufferer is trying to fall asleep. It’s not understood why it worsens at night, but the most plausible reason is that the absence of other noises around you makes it worse. During the day, other sounds ease the noise of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s when you lay down for the night.
Many people use a sound machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background noise is enough to get your brain to reduce the volume on your tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.
5. There is No Quick Fix For Tinnitus
Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you have to live with is tough to accept. Though no cure will stop that ringing permanently, there are things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it is vital to get a correct diagnosis. By way of example, if you hear clicking, maybe the sound isn’t tinnitus but a sound associated with a jaw problem like TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like high blood pressure.
Lots of people will discover their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and dealing with that health problem relieves the noise they hear. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the level of noise, so the brain can stop trying to make it to fill in the silence. Hearing loss may also be easy to solve, such as earwax build up. Once the doctor treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus vanishes.
In extreme cases, your physician may attempt to reduce the tinnitus medically. Tricyclic antidepressants may help lower the noise, as an example. The doctor can provide you with lifestyle changes which should alleviate the symptoms and make living with tinnitus more tolerable, like using a noise machine and finding ways to manage stress.
Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there’s hope. Medical science is learning more each year about how the brain works and ways to improve life for those suffering from tinnitus.