You hear a lot of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness which has a strong emotional component because it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as phantom sounds in one or both ears. Most folks describe the sound as clicking, buzzing, hissing, or ringing that nobody else can hear.
Tinnitus technically is not an illness but a symptom of an another medical issue like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million people from the U.S. deal with on daily basis. The phantom sound tends to begin at the worst possible times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV series, trying to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a terrific story. Tinnitus can act up even once you attempt to get some sleep.
Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many people suffer with tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the mind creates this sound to balance the silence that comes with hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering condition. Consider five ways that tinnitus is such a problem.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus have more activity in the limbic system of their mind. This system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until now, most doctors thought that individuals with tinnitus were stressed and that is the reason why they were always so sensitive. This new theory indicates there’s much more to it than just stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus snappy and emotionally frail.
2. Tinnitus is Not Easy to Discuss
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 talk about tinnitus causes a divide. Even if you are able to tell somebody else, it is not something that they truly understand unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they might not have exactly the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but it means talking to a lot of people that you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an attractive option to most.
3. Tinnitus is Distracting
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with sound in the background that you can not turn down or turn off. It is a distraction that many find debilitating if they are at the office or just doing things around the house. The ringing changes your focus which makes it tough to stay on track. The inability to concentrate that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and mediocre.
4. Tinnitus Hinders Rest
This could be one of the most critical side effects of tinnitus. The ringing tends to amp up when a person is attempting to fall asleep. It is not understood 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 sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s when you lay down for the night.
Many men and women use a sound machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background sound is enough to get your brain to lower the volume on your tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.
5. There is No Permanent Solution For Tinnitus
Just the idea that tinnitus is something you must live with is tough to come to terms with. Although no cure will stop that noise for good, there are things can be done to assist you find relief. It starts at the physician’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s vital to get a correct diagnosis. By way of instance, if you hear clicking, maybe 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.
Many people will discover their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that health problem relieves the buzzing. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the amount of noise, so the brain can stop trying to make it to fill in the empty spaces. Hearing loss can also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying problem, the tinnitus dulls.
In extreme cases, your doctor may try to treat the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help reduce the ringing you hear, for instance. The doctor may provide you with lifestyle changes that should alleviate the symptoms and make life with tinnitus easier, such as using a noise machine and finding ways to handle anxiety.
Tinnitus presents many struggles, but there is hope. Science is learning more every year about how the brain functions and strategies to improve life for those suffering from tinnitus.