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Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 05:25 PM   #1
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Ringing.......Help?


I did alot of shooting(w/o ear protection) and listening to loud music as a youngster - I still have excellent hearing..but am becoming more and more aware of a "ringing" high pitched background consistant sound(tinnitis(sp?)). Often during the day I do not notice it- but at night when I lay down to sleep or read - it is there.
I am very careful w/ my hearing now - always wearing ear protection even when mowing the yard etc.

Will this "ringing" get worse? Is there a treatment? Sometimes I find it very annoying - whats a guy to do?!
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Re: Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 05:37 PM   #2
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

That is a condition called tinitus.

http://healing.about.com/cs/conditions/a/tinnitus.htm
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Old 01-09-2007, 05:50 PM   #3
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

I've had a couple of bouts of this. I don't know the cause, but it's maddening. Like you, my hearing was damaged by shooting without hearing protection when I was young. (In my generation, the average draftee lost so much hearing during basic training that they probably couldn't pass their draft physical again - if re-takes were allowed.)

I talked to my doctor, did quite a bit of reading on the subject, but found a myriad of possible causes...with no useful treatment except the suggestion that it can be exacerbated by over-dosing on caffeine. I cut way back, and the ringing abated. Cause or coincidence?
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Re: Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

I've had this for years. Very high pitched, with several different frequencies. Could be from rock band I was in as a teenager or something else. I distinctly remember as a kid of about 9, concluding that the world wasn't quiet, but had a background ringing -- so maybe I had it then, too.

I've got this advice that may sound flip, but is based on my years of experience with it:

Don't let it bother you.

May be easier said than done, but for me, even though, when I think about it or pay attention to it, it is very prominent and annoying, it doesn't interfere with my hearing in any way. In fact, I have super good hearing -- too good because I'm always noticing sounds that no one else hears (like my electric shaver charging).

I went through a time when it bothered me and I worried about it, but now I coexist fine with it.

One ENT doc told me it would get better as I aged, because I'd lose sensitivity to high frequencies. I don't buy it (and haven't noticed any change), since I think the problem is downstream of the area of the auditory system that deteriorates.

I also have this phenomenon, which may be related: Every once in a while (say every month or so) the tinnitus stops for about 1 second, followed by a loud ringing that gradually declines over the next minute or so. I figure that this is a single hair cell (in the cochlea) dying. In any case, I worried that one of these louder whines would be permanent, but that hasn't been the case.

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Re: Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 06:17 PM   #5
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donzo
Will this "ringing" get worse? Is there a treatment? Sometimes I find it very annoying - whats a guy to do?!
It's "tinnitus," which refers only to the symptom, not the cause. Noise exposure is the likely culprit and while ear protection now is a good idea, it is cumulative damage over a lifetime. Because there are so many other causes, it is worth getting checked out at least once by an ENT doctor. Anything from tumors (rare), Meniere's disease, infections, vascular problems, and even aspirin in higher doses can cause it. Most cases are just due to age and/or noise exposure.

Assuming everything else checks out...

- Cochlear implants for patients with severe cases with nerve-damage hearing loss can help

- Medical regimens are not very effective

- special techniques for retraining"masking, biofeedback help some suffers when it's severe

- Herbal remedies, vitamins, acupuncture, etc. are not better than placebo.

If it were me and no serious cause was found, I would probably do nothing other than future ear protection until symptoms got pretty severe or hearing loss progressed.

Hope that helps. If you're really enthusiastic, this site is interesting.

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Re: Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 06:31 PM   #6
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

What.... :P

Too many Marshall amps on 11...
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Old 01-09-2007, 07:46 PM   #7
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I went through a time when it bothered me and I worried about it, but now I coexist fine with it.
Oh - you've been married a long time, also ?

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Old 01-09-2007, 08:06 PM   #8
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Thanks for the replies and links. I have the subtle high pitched tones w/ 2 or three frequencies. It was interesting - the link supplied by Doc Rich had an example of "ringing in the ears" the sound went right to my left ear and amplified. I had never really noticed that my left ear has this condition much more than my right.
I drink alot of coffee - I am going to cut back and see if there is a change.
I had never discussed this with my DW - turns out she like 50 million other Americans has it also.
T-Al - I will not let it bother me as you suggest. I have had it for years...but never had the time to think about it - I remember years ago wondering if it was because of the stress/travel etc that I endured during employment. Now that I am stress free most of the time - I can "listen" to my body.
HFWR - yeah - had a Marshall amp - often at 10......would have been 11 had there been one!
I also shot alot of skeet w/ my Uncle - 12 gauge - no ear protection...what were we thinking?!
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Re: Ringing.......Help?
Old 01-09-2007, 08:41 PM   #9
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I've got this advice that may sound flip, but is based on my years of experience with it:

Don't let it bother you.

May be easier said than done, but for me, even though, when I think about it or pay attention to it, it is very prominent and annoying, it doesn't interfere with my hearing in any way.
What T-Al said. I hadn't noticed it all day until I read this post. As I write this it is ringing away. As soon as I get involved in something else it recedes into the background until I don't notice it. It is definitely prominent enough that it *could* become a major annoyance but I really think the attitude that it won't bother you if you ignore it works.
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:07 PM   #10
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Like elevator music for the brain...
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:10 PM   #11
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Geez, this thread has been a real ear-opener, especially you Al. You guys shouldn't beat yourselves up so badly for flunking your hearing-conservation programs. That might not be the cause.

I've worn hearing protection for most of my professional life-- foam earplugs 6-8 hours out of just about every 24 for all my years of sea duty, custom-fitted rubber plugs later on, and a few tough days with both plugs & a headset. My hearing is far more acute than most 46-year-olds (although I don't listen very well) and I've rarely been exposed to acute noise levels.

Yet I hear tinnitus too. I thought everyone heard it. It's always there in the background, except during very quiet nights when I wake up and it's fading out. Other times it "beeps" in my ears like the audiogram that puts various freqs in your ears through headphones in a sound-dampened booth.

It's been there as long as I can remember, and I thought everyone had/has it. It's happening now, although most of the time I have to concentrate on it to be aware of it.

So here's another weird symptom. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night, I start up deaf and can actually feel my hearing turn on. It doesn't happen very often but it's a definite startup. It only takes a second or two, it happens to both ears simultaneously, and it's like turning up the headphone volume to be able to hear the background noise. It's like waking up suddenly and having to consciously focus your eyes to see.

Eh, it's probably psychological...
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Old 01-10-2007, 08:46 AM   #12
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

I have ringing in my ears also when it's quite or lay down to sleep. I started to notice this after I had open heart surgery... Neurology Doctor said it happens... nothing to be done.

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Old 01-10-2007, 09:09 AM   #13
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

For perspective, be aware that tinnitus is not the same from person to person. Most with mild symptoms would do best just to tolerate it -- if you have to pay attention carefully to even know if it is present, you probably have a mild case.

But there are some for whom it is very "loud" and / or interferes with hearing or sanity, so to speak. It becomes almost impossible to ignore, and thus a real disability.

So it's hard to generalize.
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:14 AM   #14
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
It's been there as long as I can remember, and I thought everyone had/has it. It's happening now, although most of the time I have to concentrate on it to be aware of it.

Eh, it's probably psychological...
Sorry to break it to you Nords but you don't have what the rest of us do. What you are describing are auditory hallucinations - a sign of psychosis. The up side is there are lots of good meds these days.
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:21 AM   #15
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

My (business) partner has quite a bad case of tinitus. It is so loud he has trouble hearing normal conversations around him (or directed at him). It also keeps him awake or wakes him up at night. Over the past 3-4 years it has morphed from annoyance to disability.

Just last week he went down to consult a specialist in Portland. I haven't heard the results, but will let you know.

He's 50-something now, and attended many rock concerts in his earlier days.
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:27 AM   #16
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
Sorry to break it to you Nords but you don't have what the rest of us do. What you are describing are auditory hallucinations - a sign of psychosis. The up side is there are lots of good meds these days.
That's one of the things I LOVE about this board, people are so "supportive".
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
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That's one of the things I LOVE about this board, people are so "supportive".
We're not prejudiced. We treat everybody equally (little/no respect : )...

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Old 01-10-2007, 11:24 AM   #18
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Quote:
So here's another weird symptom. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night, I start up deaf and can actually feel my hearing turn on. It doesn't happen very often but it's a definite startup. It only takes a second or two, it happens to both ears simultaneously, and it's like turning up the headphone volume to be able to hear the background noise. It's like waking up suddenly and having to consciously focus your eyes to see.
I think this is a normal thing related to being asleep vs. being awake. Based on personal experience (and not from my education), the auditory system seems to shut down to some extent when you sleep.

If I'm nodding off in a noisy environment, and I'm in that "in between" state, I sometimes notice the background noise click on an off, like a radio with a bad connection on the speaker.

And when I wake up, noticing sounds is a clear indication that I'm awake for good.
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:42 PM   #19
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

it's happening to me but not to you so there must be something wrong. seems something's there but we can't find a cause. so we can either wear aluminum hats or just call it tinitus and put in for government grants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
So here's another weird symptom. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night, I start up deaf and can actually feel my hearing turn on. It doesn't happen very often but it's a definite startup. It only takes a second or two, it happens to both ears simultaneously, and it's like turning up the headphone volume to be able to hear the background noise. It's like waking up suddenly and having to consciously focus your eyes to see.
i'm sorry, i was playing with my tinitus. what did you say? it happens on waking up? on being between asleep and awake? it's like waking up your consciousness? i need to pay better attention. i get so confused with this stuff. could be you are becoming aware of your body waking up. but how can you be conscious if you're sleeping? how interesting.

the tibetan book of the dead, evans-wentz translation, offers fun reading in dealing with the bardos (the betweens). the third edition includes commentary by c.g. jung. or an easier read is the robert a.f. thurman translation.

for the more scientific minded interested in how much fun sleeping & waking can be, i'd suggest also the more contemporary sleeping, dreaming & dying (sort of by) the dalai lama (but actually) edited by francisco varela.

"he who looks outside dreams....he who looks inside wakes'' ~~ c.g. jung
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Old 01-11-2007, 06:30 AM   #20
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Re: Ringing.......Help?

Mine started when I was a little younger, but got worse now that I am older.
I notice mine is when my blood pressure is high.
And yes, there have been many nights that it is so loud, I have a hard time falling asleep (it takes 10 minutes to fall asleep versus 2!).

~M
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