You hear a lot of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness which has a strong psychological element since it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost noises in one or both ears. Most folks describe the noise as hissing, clicking, buzzing, or ringing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an underlying medical problem like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million individuals in the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The phantom sound will start at the worst possible times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV show, trying to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can flare up even when you attempt to go to sleep.
Medical science hasn’t quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer with tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the mind creates this noise to balance the silence that accompanies hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing issue. Consider five ways that 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 the brain. The limbic system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most specialists thought that people with tinnitus were worried and that’s why they were always so emotional. This new theory indicates there is far more to it than just stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus snappy and emotionally fragile.
2. Tinnitus is Tough to Talk About
How do you explain to somebody else that you hear weird noises coming from inside your head and not feel crazy once you say it. The incapability to discuss tinnitus causes a disconnect. Even if you are able to tell someone else, it’s not something that they truly get unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they might not have exactly the very same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but it means speaking to a lot of people that you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an attractive choice to most.
3. Tinnitus is Annoying
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not escape. It’s a diversion that many find crippling whether they’re at the office or just doing things around the house. The ringing shifts your focus which makes 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 Rest
This is one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The sound tends to get worse when a person is attempting to fall asleep. It’s not certain why it increases at night, but the most logical explanation is that the lack of sounds around you makes it worse. Throughout the day, other noises ease the sound 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 sound is enough to get your brain to lower the volume on your tinnitus and permit you to get some sleep.
5. There’s No Permanent Solution 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 noise 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 critical to get a correct diagnosis. For instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise is not tinnitus but a sound related to 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 dealing with that problem relieves the buzzing. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to make some sound to fill up the silence. Hearing loss may also be easy to solve, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus disappears.
In extreme cases, your specialist may attempt to treat the tinnitus medically. Tricyclic antidepressants may help lower the noise, as an example. The doctor can suggest lifestyle changes that should ease the symptoms and make living with tinnitus easier, like using a sound machine and finding ways to manage anxiety.
Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there’s hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and ways to make life better for those suffering from tinnitus.