You hear a lot of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness that has a strong emotional component since it affects so many aspects of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost sounds in both ears. Most people describe the noise as ringing, clicking, buzzing, or hissing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an another medical problem like hearing loss and something that over 50 million individuals from the U.S. deal with on regular basis. The phantom sound tends to start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV series, trying to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can act up even once you attempt to go to bed.
Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the mind creates this sound to balance the silence that accompanies hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering condition. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a challenge.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent research indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus have increased activity in their limbic system of their mind. The limbic system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Until this discovery, most specialists thought that individuals with tinnitus were worried and that’s why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there is much more to it than just stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus snappy and emotionally frail.
2. Tinnitus is Not Easy to Explain
How do you explain to somebody else that you hear weird noises coming from inside your head and not feel crazy when you say it. The helplessness to go over tinnitus causes a divide. Even if you are able to tell someone else, it’s not something that they truly can relate to unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they may not have the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means talking to a bunch of people that you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an appealing choice to most.
3. Tinnitus is Bothersome
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can’t turn down or shut off. It is a diversion that many find crippling if they are at the office or just doing things around the house. The noise shifts your focus making it tough to remain on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a real motivation killer, too, which makes you feel lethargic and useless.
4. Tinnitus Disrupts Sleep
This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The sound tends to amp up when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It’s not understood why it increases during the night, but the most plausible explanation is that the absence of other noises around you makes it worse. During the day, other sounds ease the noise of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s time for bed.
A lot of men and women use a sound machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of ambient noise is enough to get your mind to lower the volume on your tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.
5. There is No Magic Cure For Tinnitus
Just the concept that tinnitus is something you must live with is hard to accept. Though no cure will shut off that ringing for good, some 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 proper diagnosis. For instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise is not tinnitus but a sound associated with a jaw problem like TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like high blood pressure.
Lots of people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that health problem relieves the buzzing. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the amount of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create it to fill a void. Hearing loss may also be easy to solve, such as earwax build up. When the doctor treats the underlying problem, the tinnitus disappears.
In extreme cases, your specialist may attempt to combat the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help lower the ringing you hear, for instance. The doctor may provide you with lifestyle changes which should ease the symptoms and make living with tinnitus more tolerable, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to handle stress.
Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there is hope. Medical science is learning more each year about how the brain functions and ways to make life better for those suffering from tinnitus.