I have tinnitus – ringing in the ears. It’s annoying but I’ve learned to live with it for the past 2-1/2 years.
What is Tinnitus?
: Tinnitus Pronunciation:
: noun \ˈti-nə-təs, tə-ˈnī-təs\
: Definition of TINNITUS
: a sensation of noise (as a ringing or roaring) that is caused by a bodily condition (as a disturbance of the auditory nerve or wax in the ear) and typically is of the subjective form which can only be heard by the one affected.
I don’t mention it very often, and it’s hard to explain what it’s like to have tinnitus. I just tell people that it is a constant hissing that never stops. The only time that I don’t notice it is when I take a shower or when the outside hose was running. The sound of the running water washes out the hissing sound (pun intended).
It doesn’t stop me from going to sleep, but it might be why I sometimes wake during the night. Well, that and the fact that I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t dream of hissing sounds, so when I’m sleeping is the only time that I don’t hear it at all. So, the question is, “If I’m asleep and don’t hear it, is the hissing still there?” It reminds me of the riddle, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I’m sure that it does.
I started noticing it about 2-1/2 years ago, around the time that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was before the diagnosis, but during the time that I was going through some testing. I was at the hospital in the radiology department’s waiting room when I noticed the hissing. I just figured it was because of all the electronic equipment. What with the X-ray machines, CT scanners, and MRIs. Not to mention everything else that runs on electricity. Anyway, I just ignored it.
I think it was later that night when I was watching TV with my husband, I could still hear the hissing noise. I said to Bob, “Do you hear that hissing sound?” And he said, “No, I don’t hear anything.”
It was then that I realized that the sound was in my head. But it’s odd because what I’m hearing sounds like it’s on the outside, in stereo, all around me. However, covering my ears doesn’t make it go away.
Then, my husband and I had an appointment with the surgeon, who gave us the diagnosis. I have breast cancer. This is a whole ‘nother story, and I don’t want to go into it now but, as of June 9, 2011, I am two years cancer free. While I was in the doctor’s office, I told the surgeon about what I believed to be Tinnitus. He told me that he had had it before, but that it was temporary. He suggested that I see the ENT who was in the same building.
So, I went to see the ENT and he went through the routine examination and then a hearing test. I received a positive tinnitus diagnosis. Everything looked okay, but there was some high frequency hearing loss. He said the tinnitus happens to a lot of people and just comes with age. He said something about the circulation. I don’t know, he really didn’t explain it well enough for me. Just that it’s common and comes with age. He said to take two tablets of Lipoflavinoid (sp) three times a day for a couple of months, and that it sometimes helps some people. Well, it didn’t, and it is pretty expensive OTC medication, so I quit taking it after 2-3 months.
So, now I’ve learned to live with it, and tune it out most of the time. It’s easy to not notice it if I’m keeping busy, or watching TV. People can’t see it or hear it, so they forget that I even have it. My oldest son, Bobby, is the only person that asks me how I’m doing with the ringing in my ears. I truly appreciate that because most people have no idea how uncomfortable and annoying it can be.
By the way, my Tinnitus is not caused by listening to loud music, or wax in the ears, as are some causes for Tinnitus. I seldom drink alcohol, so I don’t believe that is an issue. I rarely drink coffee, maybe a few cups a week, so I don’t think it’s the caffeine. I do have diabetes and that seems to be the cause of everything, so maybe it has something to do with Tinnitus, I don’t know.
I’m one of the lucky ones, though. I went searching on YouTube for the sounds of Tinnitus. Oh, my, there are some really horrible sounds that some people have in their heads.
How would you like to hear this 24/7? Not unless I was camping in the outdoors, and not even then!
The following is a higher pitch than what I hear.
The following is close to the sound that I hear, but mine is a little bit higher pitch. Mine is more like the sound of white noise on a TV channel that is not tuned in. It kinda reminds me of the TV in Poltergeist, “They’re Back.”
The following is the closest to what I hear, except for the sound of the water hitting the floor. It is the shower spray sound that I hear:
They say that some of these sounds are used for relaxation and to help people sleep. Maybe that’s why I don’t have any trouble falling asleep at night.
Some Celebrities with Tinnitus:
• William Shatner
• Leonard Nimoy
• Eric Clapton
• Phil Collins
• David Letterman
• Sylvester Stallone
• Barbra Streisand
This is just a small list, there are many, many more.
American Tinnitus Association – ATA’s mission is to cure Tinnitus. Join us and help support Tinnitus Research.
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