5 Reasons Why Living with Tinnitus Can Be Challenging
The Hearing Clinic - Scarborough, ON

Woman with tinnitus trying to muffle the ringing in her ears with a pillow to overcome challenge.

You hear plenty of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic ailments like high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness that has a strong emotional component because it affects so many aspects of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost noises in both ears. Most folks describe the sound as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing that nobody else can hear.

Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an another medical problem like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million people from the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The ghost sound tends to start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV series, attempting to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can act up even when you attempt to go to bed.

Medical science hasn’t quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the brain creates this sound to counteract the silence that comes with hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing condition. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a problem.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent research indicates that people who experience tinnitus have increased activity in the limbic system of their mind. This system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Until this discovery, most specialists believed that individuals with tinnitus were worried and that is why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there is far more to it than just stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus more irritable and emotionally delicate.

2. Tinnitus is Hard to Discuss

How do you explain to somebody else that you hear weird noises that don’t exist and not feel crazy when you say it. The inability to talk about tinnitus is isolating. Even if you are able to tell someone else, it’s not something they truly get unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they may not have the same signs of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means speaking to a lot of people you aren’t comfortable with about something very personal, so it is not an appealing choice to most.

3. Tinnitus is Distracting

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not get away from or stop. It’s a diversion that many find crippling if they’re at work or just doing things around the home. The noise changes your attention which makes it tough to stay on track. The inability to concentrate that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and mediocre.

4. Tinnitus Disrupts Rest

This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing will amp up when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It is not understood why it increases during the night, but the most logical reason is that the silence around you makes it more noticeable. During the day, other sounds ease the noise of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s time to go to bed.

Many men and women use a sound machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background noise is enough to get your brain to lower the volume on the tinnitus and allow you to get some sleep.

5. There is No Cure For Tinnitus

Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you must live with is tough to come to terms with. Although no cure will shut off that ringing for good, there are things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the physician’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis. By way of instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem like TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like high blood pressure.

Many people will discover their tinnitus is the result of hearing loss and dealing with that issue relieves the buzzing. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to make some sound to fill in the empty spaces. Hearing loss may also be temporary, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying problem, the tinnitus dulls.

In extreme cases, your doctor may try to reduce the tinnitus medically. Tricyclic antidepressants may help reduce the noise, as an example. The doctor may provide you with lifestyle changes that should ease the symptoms and make life with tinnitus more tolerable, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to handle anxiety.

Tinnitus presents many hurdles, but there’s hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and strategies to improve life for those struggling with tinnitus.

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