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5 Reasons Why Living with Tinnitus Can Be Difficult

Woman with tinnitus trying to muffle the ringing in her ears with a pillow to overcome challenge.

You hear plenty of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic ailments like 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 someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost noises in both ears. Most folks describe the noise as hissing, clicking, buzzing, or ringing that nobody 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 individuals from the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The ghost sound will begin at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you’re 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 get some sleep.

Medical science has not 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 comes with hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering problem. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a problem.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus also have more activity in their limbic system of their brain. The limbic system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until now, most specialists thought that individuals with tinnitus were worried and that’s why they were always so sensitive. This new theory indicates there is much more to it than simple stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus testy and emotionally sensitive.

2. Tinnitus is Tough to Explain

How do you explain to somebody else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy once you say it. The incapability to tell others about tinnitus causes a disconnect. Even if you could tell somebody else, it is not something they truly get unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they might not have exactly the very same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups exist, but that means speaking to a lot of people 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 get away from or stop. It is a distraction that many find disabling if they’re at home or just doing things around the office. The noise changes your focus which makes it hard to remain on track. The inability to concentrate that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, which makes you feel lethargic and unworthy.

4. Tinnitus Blocks Sleep

This is one of the most critical side effects of tinnitus. The ringing will get worse when a sufferer is trying to fall asleep. It’s unclear why it increases during the night, but the most logical explanation is that the absence of other noises around you makes it more active. Throughout the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s time to go to sleep.

A lot of people use a sound machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background sound is enough to get your mind to lower the volume on the 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 come to terms with. Though no cure will shut off that noise for good, some things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s critical 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 like TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like hypertension.

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 noise, 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 doctor treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus disappears.

In extreme cases, your physician may try 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 alleviate the symptoms and make living with tinnitus simple, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to manage anxiety.

Tinnitus presents many struggles, but there is hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and strategies to improve life for those suffering from tinnitus.

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