You hear plenty of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It is 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 hissing, clicking, buzzing, or ringing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an untreated 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 will begin at the worst possible times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV series, attempting to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific story. Tinnitus can act up even once you attempt to get some rest.
Medical science hasn’t quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it happens. The accepted theory is that the brain creates this sound to balance the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing issue. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a problem.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent research indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus also have more activity in the limbic system of the mind. This system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Until this discovery, most doctors thought that people with tinnitus were worried and that’s the reason why they were always so sensitive. This new theory indicates there’s far more to it than just stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus testy and emotionally frail.
2. Tinnitus is Not Easy to Explain
How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy when you say it. The inability to tell others about tinnitus is isolating. Even if you could tell somebody else, it is not something they truly understand unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they may not have the very same signs of tinnitus as you. Support groups exist, but it means speaking to a bunch of people you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an attractive option to most.
3. Tinnitus is Annoying
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not turn down or shut off. It is a diversion that many find crippling whether they’re at work or just doing things around the home. The noise changes your focus making it hard to stay on track. The inability to concentrate that comes with tinnitus is a real motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and unworthy.
4. Tinnitus Interferes With Rest
This is one of the most critical side effects of tinnitus. The ringing will get louder when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It’s unclear why it worsens at night, but the most logical reason is that the silence around you makes it worse. Throughout the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn everything all off when it’s time to sleep.
A lot of people use a noise machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of ambient noise is enough to get your mind to reduce the volume on your tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.
5. There’s No Cure For Tinnitus
Just the idea that tinnitus is something you must live with is tough to accept. Though no cure will stop that noise permanently, a few things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the physician’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it is vital to get a correct diagnosis. By way of instance, if you hear clicking, maybe the noise isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem such as TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like high blood pressure.
Lots of people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and dealing with that issue relieves the buzzing. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create some sound to fill a void. Hearing loss can also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus disappears.
In extreme cases, your doctor may attempt to treat the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help lower the noise, as an example. The doctor may suggest lifestyle changes which should ease the symptoms and make living with tinnitus easier, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to manage anxiety.
Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there’s hope. Science is learning more every year about how the brain functions and ways to improve life for those suffering from tinnitus.