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5 Reasons Why Living with Tinnitus Can Be Challenging

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

You hear a lot of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic ailments such as high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness that has a strong emotional component since it affects so many areas of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost sounds in one or both ears. Most folks describe the noise as ringing, hissing, buzzing, or clicking 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 more than 50 million people from the U.S. deal with on regular basis. The phantom sound tends to begin at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV series, trying to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can act up even once you try to get some sleep.

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 noise to counteract the silence that comes with 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 information indicates that people who experience tinnitus also have increased activity in their limbic system of the mind. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. Until now, most doctors thought that individuals with tinnitus were stressed and that’s the reason why they were always so sensitive. This new research indicates there is far more to it than just stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus testy and emotionally delicate.

2. Tinnitus is Hard to Discuss

How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that don’t exist 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 that they truly understand unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they may not have exactly the very same signs of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means speaking to a lot of people you aren’t comfortable with about something very personal, so it’s not an attractive option to most.

3. Tinnitus is Bothersome

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with sound in the background that you can’t turn down or shut off. It is a diversion that many find crippling whether they are at home or just doing things around work. The ringing changes your attention 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 Rest

This is one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The sound will amp up when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It is not certain why it increases at night, but the most plausible explanation 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 when you lay down for the night.

Many 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 brain to reduce the volume on the tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.

5. There’s No Cure For Tinnitus

Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you must live with is hard to accept. Though no cure will shut off that ringing permanently, a few things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it is vital to get a proper diagnosis. For instance, if you hear clicking, maybe the noise isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem like TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like hypertension.

Lots of people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that problem relieves the noise they hear. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the level of noise, so the brain can stop trying to make some sound to fill a void. Hearing loss can also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. When the doctor treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus vanishes.

In extreme cases, your physician may try to reduce the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help reduce the ringing you hear, as an example. The doctor can provide you with lifestyle changes that 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 struggles, but there’s hope. Science is learning more each year about how the brain works and ways to make life better for those suffering from tinnitus.

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