You hear plenty of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic ailments such as high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness that has a strong psychological element because it affects so many areas of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost sounds in one or both ears. Most folks describe the sound as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing 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 over 50 million individuals from the U.S. deal with on daily basis. The ghost sound will begin at the worst possible times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV series, attempting to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a great 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 from tinnitus or how it occurs. The current theory is that the mind creates this noise to counteract the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing problem. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a challenge.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent research indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus also have increased activity in their limbic system of the brain. This system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most specialists believed that people with tinnitus were stressed and that’s the reason why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there’s far more to it than simple stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus touchy and emotionally frail.
2. Tinnitus is Hard to Explain
How do you explain to somebody else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy when you say it. The incapability to discuss tinnitus is isolating. Even if you are able to tell somebody else, it’s not something they truly get unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they may not have exactly the very same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups exist, but it means speaking to a lot of people you aren’t comfortable with 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 sound in the background that you can’t escape. It’s a diversion that many find debilitating if they’re at work or just doing things around the home. The noise changes your attention 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 useless.
4. Tinnitus Hampers Rest
This might be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing will get worse when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It is not certain why it worsens during the night, but the most plausible reason is that the lack of sounds around you makes it more active. Throughout the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn everything all off when it is time to sleep.
Many men and women use a sound machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of ambient sound is enough to get your brain to lower the volume on the tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.
5. There is No Permanent Solution For Tinnitus
Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you must live with is hard to come to terms with. Though no cure will stop that ringing permanently, there are things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis. For example, if you hear clicking, maybe the sound isn’t tinnitus but a sound associated with a jaw problem such as TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like hypertension.
Many people will discover their tinnitus is the result of hearing loss and coping with that 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 in the silence. Hearing loss can also be temporary, such as earwax build up. When the doctor treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus disappears.
In extreme cases, your specialist may attempt to reduce 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 easier, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to manage stress.
Tinnitus presents many struggles, but there’s hope. Medical science is learning more each year about how the brain functions and ways to make life better for those struggling with tinnitus.