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You could try this for a little relief. It simulates the sounds of nature on your PC and it sounds really authentic through headphones or speakers. There is a free version and a shareware version. It's called Atmosphere by Vectormedia Technologies. The homepage is http://www.relaxingsoftware.com (note added later (Jan.09): this website doesn't seem to exist anymore, but the free version can still be downloaded from download.com).
Hope it helps
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
Thanks a lot. I downloaded and tested the free version and it looks (or rather sounds) like a good program for those who want to produce some natural sound background according to their liking (all sounds can be mixed freely).
I also want to mention the free program 'Aire Freshener' which can be downloaded from http://www.peterhirschberg.com/mysoftware.html. This one is primarily intended to produce a sound background for your PC, but using a program like dBPoweramp one can also record this to a sound-file.
A personal experience:
In the last 5 years it has increased in intensity. At the same time a number of other problems related to stress have occurred:
* Separation from my family
* Dental problems
* Early retirement
* deterioration of a family member.
* Poor hearing in my right ear.
Each of these events has contributed to the tinnitus becoming a 24 hour condition. The tinnitus is not responsible for the separation but the depression that accompanied my inability to sleep was responsible for loss of career and separating me from my family. In the past 10 years I have had counsel from psychotherapists, psychiatrists and stress counsellors. I have come to the conclusion that using relaxation and visualisation techniques at night prior to retiring helps a lot. Soothing music is important. I have 2 CD's both of which are called tranquillity. In the past I also used audio tapes and visualisation to great effect. Deep breathing seems to help as well. It was important that I also changed my eating habits. I have found that eating or drinking after 7p.m. affects my sleeping pattern. This is because my body starts to wind down and consequently so does digestion. I was also made aware that certain foods are good for sleep. Apparently substances in milk, bananas and turkey can assist sleep.
A hearing problem I have as well as the tinnitus has turned to my advantage. I have compensated for hearing loss in my right ear by using the left. This imbalance between the two ears made me sensitive to noises of low volume like the creaking of the house as it settled down at night. I have found though that if I sleep with my left ear into the pillow I get a much better sleep.
I have bruxism (grinding of the teeth and jaw during sleep) I recently woke up with a sore jaw, sensitive gums and pieces of broken teeth in my mouth. When I look in the mirror my face has a lopsided look. It looks very much like my jaw is out of alignment. This is another sign that I am feeling the effects of stress during my sleep.
To boost my self esteem I have gone back into education. My classmates are a wonderful group of people who appreciate my efforts to assist them in the classroom and outside as well. The combined effect of achieving and helping has helped me immensely. I used to find the tinnitus was extremely stressful but I have lowered my stress levels in the past and will do so again. Consequently the tinnitus will probably become only an annoyance again.
I have to say that I did not relate my increase in tinnitus to dental problems but now that I have had an increase in tinnitus at the same time as the effects of bruxism I can see that there is a good chance that the 2 conditions are related.
I hope that this account will show that adapting to it is better than surrendering to it.
Email Alan BellD.H.
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
A couple of points I would like to comment on:
As far as I am aware, there is no proven connection between jaw- or dental problems and tinnitus. It is much more likely that both your bruxism and increased tinnitus intensity are two separate consequences of your stress.
With regard to eating and drinking in the evening: my own tinnitus is quieter if I have my meals and drinks later (about 2 hours before going to sleep). It is anyway important to drink enough fluid if you have tinitus (which is known as the 'dry ear'- condition); I presume this is because the fluid dilutes the salt concentration in your body, which reduces the electrical nerve conduction and therefore the tinnitus intensity.
Regards your last sentence: as with every illness, you certainly have to adapt in suitable ways in order to improve the condition, but I am convinced that in most cases this is only temporarily necessary and that eventually the symptoms will disappear altogether (although it may take a long time to achieve this).
Ode To A Useless Ear
(another performance piece)
By Boy Wonder The left is clear
The right is loud
Not loud with the sounds of the world
Loud with the sounds of nerves
The neverending cacophony
Of Tinnitus It hangs there
Always loud Profound Hearing Loss
They can't hear the noise I hear
They can't hear the sounds I can't hear
The right It does keep my glasses up
But something Nothing to be done
No hearing aid
Only noise I sleep with the noise
I eat with the noise
I work with the noise
I live with the noise
A noise so loud
If only it was the noise
On my right
The right So thank God for the left
Of the left
I hear with the left
Something I appreciate more than ever
Something I cherish more than ever
Something I need more than ever
The beautiful left D.
I think I have an unusual tinnitus in that it stops and starts. My right ear will buzz fairly loudly for about 30 seconds, stop for 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat, repeat, repeat, constantly, over & over, on & on. It is usually worse when I lie down on either side, but is usually (not always) better when I am standing or sitting upright; sometimes gone completely when I'm upright. Also seems worse at night. I can sometimes stop it by pushing very hard with my finger over the tmj area, but it will come back when I take my finger away. Sometimes it will go away for months at a time, only to return without any rhyme or reason. Any ideas, as I am beginning to lose it and sometimes I think I'm going to hit myself in the head with a baseball bat.
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
First of all, even most 'normal' people experience tinnitus sporadically, but it is usually not considered as a problem until it becomes permanent. As your tinnitus is strictly speaking not chronic, it might actually be easier to treat. I am really not qualified to make a judgement from your description, but I would suspect that it may be a relatively simple mechanical reason like a sporadic temporary occlusion of your Eustachian Tube (which provides the equalization of air pressure in your ear) that triggers your tinnitus. If you haven't done so already, you should consult an ENT- specialist about your problem and get your ears checked in this respect. However, it is also possible that this is somehow stress related and you should therefore try to establish a somewhat more relaxed lifestyle. In the meanwhile, don't use baseball bats to relieve your condition (they are likely to make it only worse). I have personally made good experiences with painkillers (Aspirin, Paracetamol (acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the US)) to suppress the ear-ringing at night (in more recent times I have discovered that alcohol-free beer has a very beneficial effect as well), but I am not sure if they will work for you, as your condition seems to be very different from mine. Otherwise, if you really feel that you can't cope with it anymore you might want to ask your doctor for tranquilizers (Valium etc.) which will help you to get over a bad patch (I took some of these as well in the beginning as a sleeping aid (prescribed by my doctor), but then found that painkillers and/or herbal sedatives worked as well and discontinued the tranquilizers (which are likely to make you dependent if taken for longer)). In any case, you may want to avoid tea, coffee and alcohol, which although they are unlikely to be responsible for your problem, can make it worse.
Thanks for getting back to me. Oh! I have seen 2 or 3 ENT specialists and the last one wants to operate and cut some muscles. I think he feels it is some type of muscular spasms. He showed me a diagram, but surgery is not a guarantee. If it was, I might consider it. My tinnitus is just so unusual in that it usually only bothers me when I lie down, either side and stops, starts, stops, starts, and so on and so on and so - for ever and ever. I have had it for a number of years and have had remissions for months at a time. I have no clue - food, meds,etc. that brings it on. Maybe allergies?
If you think of anything else, let me know and thanks very much again.
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
My guess would also be that it is related to some muscle spams (although I am saying this as a medical layperson), but since this is clearly a nervous problem, I would personally be sceptical as well regards the chances of success of surgery. Maybe some muscle relaxant medication can help in your case. You could probably even first try some mild herbal sedatives which you can buy over the counter (the ones used against nervousness or as a sleeping aid).
This is only the third day of the constant ring in my ear. Today is actually the most severe it has been. I don't know if it's from sticking the q tip too far or from loud music on the way home from work. I don't know how I got this darn ring. It's driving me crazy.
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
First of all, don't panic. Although annoying, it is not a life threatening condition and you won't go deaf from it either. For the time being avoid coffee, tea, cola, alcohol and everything which would stimulate your nervous system and make the ringing appear even louder. Avoid also loud noises and stress if possible. For me personally painkillers (Aspirin, Paracetamol (acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the US)) have worked well to get over bad patches. Taking 1 tablet a day (or night) of these for a couple of days may already improve the condition somewhat, but probably only if you are already off caffeine for a couple of weeks (at least this was the case for me). In more recent times I have discovered that alcohol-free beer has a very beneficial effect as well. However, don't expect a quick cure; the condition is unlikely to vanish within a few days, so there is no point to try force the matter. It may well take a few months before you are on the road to normality again.
I have had tinnitus for a month. The ENT said it was caused by stress. He said the hairs on my cochlea were damaged or gone and that the brain still expects noise from them so it "creates" the ringing .
Anyway this really freaked me out. So i prayed to Jesus to help me- He did because I found a CD called WOODWIND WATERS by Global Journey which had music that masked the ringing. I felt my brain relax because it could not be annoyed by this high pitch ring when the music played. The ringing got lost among the the chimes and water noises. The music also is very soothing. Now i have a sanctuary, a place and time to study, to get some time for my self NOT for the noise. So i can go on and manage my life better and relax. I will continue to pray. Jesus has healed before and will heal again. Bodily health is so important. So is spiritual health. Water falls help. Fountains help. noisy restaurants help. prayer helps. DONT STRESS. Tell your children to be careful with head phones.
Email S.RoseyJanis Paula Rafael
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
It is nowadays assumed that tinnitus is a nervous condition and not necessarily connected to a damage of the inner ear, i.e. it is not an irreversible condition. By applying a few simple yet consequent measures (see my reply to the previous post and the information elsewhere on this site), one can substantially improve or even get rid of the condition. It may take a long time, but eventually your hearing system will return to normal. Just have confidence in the self-healing properties of your body.
Masking the tinnitus by other sounds has temporarily helped me as well in the early stages, but a genuine improvement only occurred after applying the measures mentioned.
I would like to post my story on your website because it is a little different in how it developed; although it was definitely stress related. But I would like to mention that this is related to the circadian rhythym which involves the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol (or cortisone) is an extremely important hormone that causes all kinds of problems when it is not producing the amount necessary to meet the demands of everyday life. Because of our pressured lifestyles, and because the body doesn't have time to recuperate in many situations, a type of syndrome has resulted and has been considered the 21st century epidemic. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and a host of other symptoms have been the result. It has been determined that many people are deficient in cortisol although blood tests or urine tests will not show the imbalance. This causes a disruption in the HPA axis. When this occurs, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, calcium levels, neurotransmitters and many other systemic reactions occur. A person must take a saliva test to determine if they may have a problem because this is the only test that is taken 4 times a day, in accordance with the circadian rhythym.
Email Janis Paula RafaelDave
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
It is generally suspected that hormones have an effect on tinnitus although there is to my knowledge no evidence that a hormonal imbalance could be the actual cause.
Most people report that their tinnitus is less severe in the evening and worst early in the morning, which could for instance either be due to the Adrenaline (or Cortisol) levels (which will be higher in the morning) or the sleep-hormone Melatonin (which is secreted in the early part of the night). As generally all nerve-stimulations will make the tinnitus appear worse and all nerve-sedations will make it appear better, it is obvious that hormones should have a corresponding effect. There have actually been trials with Melatonin-supplements that showed some improvement of the tinnitus, but these don't seem to be generally accepted. If you live in the U.S. you should be able to buy Melatonin freely over the counter (it is normally used to combat Jet-lag, i.e. it gets you to sleep when you normally wouldn't), so you could try it out for yourself. Generally I would not recommend however to mess with your hormone levels without medical advice as this could open up a whole array of other problems.
Anyway, it seems illogical to me that LOW levels of the stress hormones Cortisol- or Adrenalin should be aggravating let alone causing tinnitus (one would expect this to happen for high levels). However, as indicated above, low levels of the sleep hormone Melatonin could well have an adverse effect.
As mentioned on my webpage, I have initially also been concerned about the hormones because of the above mentioned connections, but have eventually managed to control and improve my condition just by trying to lead a less stressful life, avoiding all nerve poisons like caffeine and alcohol and occasionally using painkillers to suppress the ear-ringing during the night.
Hi ! Thanks for running this site. It's helped me not panic as much and feel so alone with my problem, but this scares the hell out of me as I've always been careful as to protect myself from loud noise.
I am a musician and have had a whooshing sound and an increased pressure in my left ear since last Sunday ( 5 days ago) after a gig where I was too close to the drummers cymbals. It feels like I've got an ear plug in my ear constantly.
Which phase of tinnitus is this? Any chance of recovery?
I'm so afraid of not getting better as playing music is my only source of income and I am in the middle of recording tunes I my new home studio aswell.
I would appreciate any feedback whatsoever.
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
First of all, you should get your ears checked by a specialist whether something obvious causes an obstruction in your ears or blocks your Eustachian tube (which provides the pressure equilibrium with the nose). If the doctor doesn't find anything (to be sure you might want to get two independent checks), then you just have to wait until the situation improves by itself (which can be several weeks or even months though). It is a good idea to avoid caffeine (coffe, tea and cola) and alcohol for the time being as this stimulates the nervous system and makes the ear-ringing appear worse. You could also try if painkillers (Paracetamol, Aspirin (acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the US)) suppress your tinnitus. For me, the occasional use has worked well to give me some relief during bad nights and it also seemed to improved the situation in the long term. In more recent times I have discovered that alcohol-free beer has a very beneficial effect as well.
You should of course also take care not to expose you ears to any more loud noise at the moment, and you should also avoid continuous high-pitched tones which could further aggravate your ear-ringing (I suspect for instance that the noise of my electric shaver aggravated my tinitus in the first few weeks; some people also have problems with TV-sets or computers). It is therefore recommended to use ear-plugs in these situations (there are even 'musician's ear-plugs' which, unlike normal ear-plugs, reduce the noise level equally for all frequencies)..
My own problems started originally with just a pressure in my ears for several days (caused by using in-ear headphones of my walkman (at moderate volume level!)). The pressure then disappeared after a week or so and I thought the problem was over, but when I used the in-ear headphones the next time, the pressure re-occured and when I happened to wake up from my sleep the following night, I had a high pitched tone in my ears. It seems that in my case (and maybe in yours as well) the tinnitus originated as a kind of counter-reaction of the nervous system to a pressure imbalance in the ear.
In any case, don't believe it if somebody tells you that you have to live with the condition for the rest of your life. With the appropriate measures (as mentioned repeatedly on these pages) the ringing will get less with time, although it could take a few years to vanish completely.
Thanks for your swift reply!
I've had this noise in my ear and pain in neck, jaw and side of my face for ten days now. I have been to see an ear specialist and he said my hearing on the ear affected had been diminished by 20% around 8 KHz, but he said that I could get better as time went on.
I cannot listen to music at all and even just running the tap makes my ear worse. I constantly use ear plugs, but the doc said to listen to soft music at a low level with ear phones, but seeing as all music is "static" to my ears I haven't followed his advice on that. I have also taken acupuncture and massage, but this doesn't seem to help.
However I have just been to see a chiropractor who adjusted my neck and it seems as though that has relieved much of the tension and pain, although the noise or "white noise" as it sounds like hasn't diminished any.
I only have a high pitched sound in my ears for a few seconds sometimes during the day, otherwise I have more of a whistling sound or as if the TV's on , but no station is transmitting. I have also started to hear a kind of echo on my ear. My affected ear seems to be receiving the sound milliseconds after my healthy ear and it is quite annoying.
I look on all changes as good ones and hope and pray for the best. Again thank you so much for running this site, it's been a life line to me in these past days.
Best regards, Dave
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
The diminishing of your hearing in your affected ear is presumably just due to the tinnitus noise. I had a similar apparent reduction of my hearing and also at 8 kHz (but this test was only done after 6 months when the condition had already considerably improved, so initially it was even a lot worse).
At the moment your hearing nerves are still thrown out of balance and cause all the apparent noises. This is likely to last for a few weeks before it starts to settle down again. It is important though that you try to avoid all additional nerve stimulation through tea, coffee, alcohol etc. and on the contrary do everything to calm and relax your nerves. I have mentioned this comparison already elswhere on these pages: one can't expect a broken leg to heal if one continues to walk on it, but some people just carry on with their usual life-style and are surprised that their tinnitus doesn't improve. The obvious problem is that you can't rest your hearing-nerve like your leg as it will always register some sound (even with ear-plugs) and will also be affected by your body chemistry. This is therefore likely to last much longer than normal injuries. You just have to keep up your measures as long as necessary and otherwise rely on the self-healing properties of your body. Intermittend therapy sessions on the other hand are unlikely to bring any lasting improvement on their own.
Thanks for a great forum! I have had my tinnitus for seven months. It takes the form of a whistle, normally about 13 KHz in both ears. I am not sure what caused it. It may have been the result of some intensive neck massage I had following chiropractic treatment, or maybe it was me foolishly bursting some packing material on a concrete floor, creating loud bangs. Whatever the reason, it came on several days later and it was terrible at first - up to 90 decibels - but at that time would vary up and down throughout the day and sometimes even disappear for a day or so. Later on it it has become less severe (40-50dB) but more constant. Today, seven months on, it is always much worse shortly after waking up in the morning (and also going to bed at night). Things that make it worse include lying down, and concentration, say on a work task. Social interaction really makes it better, not just less noticeable. The noise of my computer fan is intensely annoying to it. I therefore wear ear plugs while at the computer, even though this makes the tinnitus sound louder.
I have tried many treatments. Taking Gingko Biloba has not had any definite effect, even after several months. So I've stopped it. In the early days my doctor prescribed Betahistine, but this made it worse ! I then went to an E.N.T specialist who considered it was caused by muscle spasm due to the massage and would go away after 3 months (it didn't) and failing that prescribed Dothiepin - a tricyclic antidepressant (which made no difference). I'm now trying Diazepam (Valium).
As I'm an electronic engineer, I made a little tone generator which plays through earphones. I have found this is most effective working at 8.5KHz (a little below the tinnitus frequency), and a burst of tone from it will give relief for up to a minute. Nowadays I use this only when awakening, while the tinnitus is at its worst. Cooling my ears with a wet flannel also seems to be beneficial at this time. But the most effective relief I've found is to wear a small amplifier which is, in effect, a hearing aid for both ears. This has been modified to only amplify the very high (tinnitus) audio frequencies. Since these frequencies are emphasised and now carry sound information rather than just being tinnitus, the brain seems to ignore the tinnitus and it virtually disappears, even for a while after the earphones are removed.
That's my story. I'm resigned to 'habituating' now, or relying for ever on my apparatus, but it would be great to be rid of this menace for good !
Email Steve Ostler
Thomas Smid (Forum-Manager)
In the first few weeks I actually tried to suppress my ear-ringing in a way similar to yours by listening to white noise (a de-tuned FM radio station) over earphones. About 10-15 minutes were sufficient to make the tinnitus virtually vanish for an hour or so. In this way I managed at least to get to sleep in the evening. What happens here apparently is that one is going temporarily half-deaf in the high frequencies (similar to the deafness one usually has for several hours after a night in a disco). Overall this method did however not provide any improvement (maybe it made it even somewhat worse). For me the situation only improved when I discovered by chance that painkillers (Paracetamol (acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the US) and later also Aspirin) not only strongly suppress the ear-ringing for about 2-3 hours but also led to a slight overall improvement each time I used them (which was frequently for about a couple of months but by no means daily because I did not want to risk to become dependent on the painkillers; I also alternated between Paracetamol and Aspirin in order to minimize side potential side effects (which are anyway much less severe than those of other medications)). This worked however only reliably a few weeks after I had gone completely off caffeine and alcohol (not that I was a heavy user of these stimulants, but apparently they tend to stay in the system for a long time even at small concentrations). If you don't want to resort to painkillers you may want to try alcohol-free beer which has been very beneficial for me in more recent times (not just because of the lack of alcohol).
As expressed repeatedly on these pages, in my opinion one does not have to resign to the condition if one takes appropriate long-term measures that help the nervous system to settle down again. Not only is my tinnitus now just short of disappearing (after about 3 years), but without the nerve stimulants in my system I feel better overall as well (maybe I won't even go back to caffeine and alcohol after the tinnitus has vanished completely).
By the way, I would be careful with the kind of earphones that you put into the ear canal. These have caused my tinnitus in the first place. Don't use headphones either that close around your ears because both types will prevent proper pressure equalization between the outer and middle ear.