Tinnitus Advice and Tips
for a Treatment and Cure

based on

Personal Experiences

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Note: The information on this page is solely based on my own personal experience and does not represent professional medical advice. The facts are correct to the best of my knowledge however and I believe that my advice regards remedies and treatments is reasonable and appropriate. On the other hand, I would like it to be understood merely as a suggestion for a personal strategy against tinnitus.


Content: Personal Tinnitus Profile, Practical Tips (what to avoid, medication) , Tinnitus Therapies, Conclusion, Forum Archive(1,2,3),Links, Disclaimer, Contact .
See also the New Tinnitus Forum and my new blog Tinnitus Treatments for Relief and Cure .

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Personal Tinnitus Profile

Symptoms:

Initially a permanent high pitched ringing in the ears (somewhat stronger in the right ear though); built up slowly over 2-3 weeks becoming so strong and aggressive that it was difficult to concentrate or sleep; died down after a further 4-6 weeks to a more gentle hissing noise (presumably due to the various measures taken by me; see Practical Tips). The intensity varied distinctly with the usual day/night rhythm, being strongest in the second part of the night and early morning (this was particularly apparent in the early stages of the illness). Since then, the intensity has slowly but steadily decreased such that it has not been a problem anymore for the last couple of years. It is now so weak that it is hardly noticeable anymore even when I focus on it, and I expect it to vanish completely in the foreseeable future.

Causes:

Due to the gradual development of the ear ringing, it is difficult to pin-point it to a specific cause, but the condition was most likely triggered by a walkman (with in-ear headphones) which I bought shortly before the symptoms started and which, although using it only at low volume, caused a pressure feeling in my ears for several days after first using it (previously this tended to disappear after an hour or so) ( I would strongly advise against in-ear headphones or closed headphones as these prevent full pressure equalization in the ear; definitely do not use these for more than half an hour at a time without a longer break; this may also be an issue for hearing aids: don't use one that completely blocks your ear canal).
However, a new electric shaver (bought a week before the symptoms started) may have considerably aggravated the condition as it emitted an unusually high pitched noise similar to the overtones of the ear ringing (I discontinued its use when the tinnitus was at its peak; I subsequently experienced on a couple of occasions also other monotonous sounds imprinting themselves on the tinnitus, so one should take care here and not expose oneself to such noises for too long even if these are not excessively loud).

Initially, I considered also other possible causes like dental problems, a hormonal imbalance or a hereditary explanation (my mother has tinnitus for about 20 years), but subsequently discounted these. However, in view of the general ignorance regards the nature of tinnitus, I consider it generally advisable to consider in the beginning as many potential causes as possible rather than become fixated on a wrong theory for decades. It may anyway be a combination of factors that trigger the condition and make it chronic. As mentioned above, in my case I suspect that it was the combination of the in-ear headphones (which caused the initial pressure imbalance in the ear) and the regular exposure to the electric shaver noise (which then imprinted itself into the so weakened hearing systen and at least aggravated if not caused the condition). I don't think that tinitus is hereditary as such, but it is obvious that the physical structure of the hearing system is inherited to a large extent and that any specific weaknesses (like problems with pressure equalization in the middle ear) may well make somebody prone to the condition.


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Practical Tips

What to avoid:

Food: Since in my case (and I am sure in many others as well) this seems to be a nervous disposition, it is obvious to avoid anything that would normally stimulate the nervous system, in particular coffee, tea and cola (drink decaffeinated types instead); alcohol on the other hand is less critical but can still worsen the condition; salt, spices and other food additives can also worsen the ringing in the ears (in particular the flavour enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (an amino acid) which is well known to enhance nervous transmissions and which is unfortunately added to many food products nowadays (ingredient E621)). I also appeared to have problems with mineral supplements like Calcium tablets. In any case, all the substances mentioned are only temporary in its effect (i.e. as long as their chemical action lasts) and there seems to be little indication that a permanent aggravation of the tinnitus can be caused by taking any of these substances for a limited period. Although an opportunist attitude in this respect may therefore be OK to prevent the tinnitus from getting too bad, it is in my experience advisable to be strict (in particular with avoiding caffeine and alcohol) if you are looking for a long-term improvement of the condition.

Medicines: Some medication can badly worsen tinnitus, at least temporarily. I had to discontinue use of tablets and a nasal spray to unblock the nose (prescribed by my doctor to improve the tinnitus !). As far as I am aware, asthma medication contains similar substances and might therefore cause problems in this respect as well.

Noises: A normal background of variable sound or noises is in my experience not only harmless but improves even the condition because the hearing nerve is obviously prevented from producing its own noise. However, I am still cautious of either very loud or continuous high pitched noises and usually use earplugs in these cases (e.g when hoovering). Of course, if the tinnitus is associated with a hearing defect one may have to take more care in order not to worsen the condition.

General: Avoid stress of any sort and try to get enough sleep in order to relax the nerves (this may be difficult during the first few weeks and one may therefor have to resort to appropriate medication which may help during this period). It is also advisable to avoid dehydration (due to sport or other causes), i.e. drink enough fluid (but no alcohol).
The effect of all these 'environmental' influences is likely to decrease with time (my sensitivity to some of the mentioned sources (e.g. spicy food) has, together with the intensity of the tinnitus, almost vanished), but it is obvious that one should keep up ones measures as strictly as possible in order to aid a further recovery.


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Medication:

I found that several substances reduce the intensity of the ear-ringing both in the short and long term (although this probably needs to be supported by the What to avoid measures above): in the early stages when the tinnitus was very intense and caused me a lot of anxiety, tranquilizers (Temazepam, prescribed by my doctor on my request for a sleeping aid) seemed to be the only way to give me a few hours sleep at night, but I soon discovered by accident that ordinary (caffeine-free) painkillers (Paracetamol (acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the US) or Aspirin in normal dosage) have a tinnitus reducing effect as well and so I used mostly these as they are less likely to have side effects or cause addiction (Aspirin is usually mentioned as a tinnitus- inducing substance, but this holds only for long-term consumption of more than 2g per day (I have not found any indication for this for allowed dosages). Strong herbal sedatives also calm down the tinnitus and help to find some sleep, although here again (like with the tranquilizers) there is the unwelcome side effect that the drowsiness caused by them may extend well into the next day (they also tend to cause me nightmares as well). Unless I felt that I really I had to catch up on my sleep, I usually preferred therefore the painkillers.
After about 8 weeks, the ear-ringing had weakened sufficiently, so that it did not cause me severe problems any more most nights. I still stuck to the What to avoid measures for the following 2 years or so in order not to have any setbacks (if these still occured sometimes, the problem was usually solved within a couple of days by means of small dosages (250mg) of painkillers (since then I have practically not taken any medication at all anymore as the tinnitus has become barely noticeable and is still further improving on its own).
All this indicates in my opinion again that tinnitus is a nervous problem which is improved, both in the short and long term, by substances which calm down or numb the nerves. I consider it even possible that one can prevent the tinnitus from fully developing in the first place by taking some painkillers in the first couple of days of the condition (in some countries like Germany, a blood-thinning infusion is usually performed as an emergency measure (in order to improve blood circulation to the inner ear), but in most cases this proves to be useless or even counter-productive (according to more recent medical theories, tinnitus is not a problem with the inner ear but a nervous problem); in my case it was anyway too late for such measures).
Warning: It is not recommended to use painkillers daily on a long term basis. The occasional intake however should generally be without problems as long as this is merely the exception rather than the rule (if in doubt for your particular case, consult the corresponding information leaflet and/or your doctor for advice). This is anyway only likely to be necessary in the first few weeks or months of the tinnitus, after which one should generally be able to sleep normally without medication.
In more recent times, a further good method to calm down the tinnitus has been alcohol-free beer: one can in the evening (an hour or so before going to sleep) does usually very much improve the condition for several days and also seems to have a positive long-term effect.


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Some Remarks regarding Tinnitus- Therapies

Many different therapies are being promoted (see Links below), all of which are however a) of uncertain success , b) more or less expensive and c) usually only provided by a small number of clinics. Several of these promote their case by publishing statistics that show how much superior their own method is compared to others, but it is obvious that this is little more than a commercial advertising tool. Fact is that none of these methods is generally accepted and can offer a reasonably good chance of an improvement let alone a cure; on the contrary, in most cases the condition is likely to get worse. This is not really surprising: most therapies have a typical duration of several weeks (one could hardly afford a longer one anyway) and it is unlikely that the tinnitus can calm down in this relatively short period (the stress related to the unusual environment, time pressure etc. is in fact more likely to make it worse). Tinnitus is now being considered as a kind of feedback- mechanism within the brain and hearing-system which maintains itself and is therefore very difficult to suppress. It may consequently take several months or longer until a significant improvement is achieved, which means that a home-treatment is the only realistic option. Obviously, each tinitus case has its own characteristics and I do therefore not suggest that my own experiences should be followed to the letter, but I am convinced that only a personal long-term strategy will be successful in controlling and improving the condition. It may take some time to work this out, but eventually one will find a way of life that provides the right conditions for the tinnitus to stabilize itself at progressively weaker intensity.


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Conclusion

The huge amount of different (and mostly contradictory) information regards tinnitus makes it difficult to find an appropriate remedy for the individual case. The reason for this unsatisfactory situation is simply that the causes of tinnitus are not clearly known. Any therapy 'off the shelf' is therefore likely to fail or make matters even worse. A personal approach, which takes the response of the tinnitus to the individual living conditions into account, seems in my opinion to be the only safe way of improvement. As in my case, this does not require any exotic therapies but only relatively minor adjustments of the personal life-style.
If your doctor has 'explained' to you that you have to learn to 'live with the tinnitus', do not consider this as the last word in this matter. Such 'advice' reflects only the ignorance of the medical profession in general and your doctor in particular. Instead, try to get in control of the tinnitus by observing through what conditions and measures it can be improved. Like with any other illness, if you provide the right conditions it will eventually lose its momentum. Although progress may be slow, it will gradually become less of a problem and there is no obvious reason why it should eventually not disappear altogether.


Forum Archive(1,2,3)


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Links

The following links should not necessarily be understood as recommendations, but only as potential sources of additional information (which should generally be treated sceptically).

Organizations (general information and support):
http://www.ata.org (American Tinnitus Association)
http://www.tinnitus.org.uk (British Tinnitus Association)
http://www.rnid.org.uk (Royal National Institute of the Deaf, UK)

Further Tinnitus Sites
A good cross section of Websites can be found in the Google- Directory.

Tinnitus Forums
Mytinnitus.de Forum (this site, english and german language forums)
Tinnitus Treatments for Relief and Cure (not a forum as such but a blog (set up by me) with facts, tips and musings about tinnitus where you can leave comments as well)
Tinnitus Support Message Board (registration required for posting messages)
Deafness/ Hard of Hearing - Forum (registration required for posting messages)
Curetinnitus.org (discussion forum which, like this site, is dedicated to providing information for curing rather than managing tinnitus; full membership now only against monthly fee).

Some known Tinnitus Therapies (see however above Remarks)
The following links will launch a corresponding Google- Search for the corresponding therapy:
Infusion, Blood-Thinning Medication, Oxygen Pressure Chamber, Retraining Therapy, Biomental Therapy, Laser Therapy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Massages, Vitamin A Therapy, Homeopathic Treatment, Hypnosis


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Disclaimer

All the statements on this page are purely based on my own personal experience and do not express professional medical advice. For some persons the tinnitus may have a fundamentally different cause and be just a symptom of a more acute physiological condition (you have to rule this out by visiting an ear- specialist). In these instances my suggestions might therefore not work or even be counter- productive. In any case, I can not accept any liability for consequences from following my advice.


Thomas Smid
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