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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 plenty of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic ailments like high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness that has a strong psychological element since it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost sounds in 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 untreated medical problem like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million individuals in the U.S. deal with on daily basis. The phantom sound will start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV show, trying to read a book or listening to a friend tell a great tale. Tinnitus can flare up even once 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 current theory is that the brain creates this noise to counteract the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering condition. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a problem.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus also have increased activity in their limbic system of their brain. This system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most specialists believed that individuals with tinnitus were worried and that’s why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there is far more to it than just stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus prickly and emotionally delicate.

2. Tinnitus is Tough to Explain

How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy when you say it. The incapability to talk about tinnitus is isolating. Even if you could tell someone else, it’s not something that they truly get unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they might not have the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means speaking to a bunch of people you aren’t comfortable with about something very personal, so it is not an appealing option to most.

3. Tinnitus is Distracting

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not get away from or stop. It’s a distraction that many find debilitating if they are at home or just doing things around the office. The ringing changes your focus making it hard to stay on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, which makes you feel lethargic and worthless.

4. Tinnitus Inhibits Rest

This might be one of the most critical side effects of tinnitus. The sound tends to amp up when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It is not certain why it worsens at night, but the most plausible reason is that the absence of other noises around you makes it more active. During the day, other sounds ease the noise of tinnitus like the TV, but you turn everything all off when it is time to go to 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 mind to lower the volume on the tinnitus and permit you to fall asleep.

5. There’s No Quick Fix For Tinnitus

Just the concept that tinnitus is something you must live with is hard to accept. Though no cure will stop 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’s essential to get a correct diagnosis. By way of instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the sound is not tinnitus but a sound associated with a jaw problem such as TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like hypertension.

Many people will discover their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that health problem relieves the buzzing. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create it to fill a void. Hearing loss can also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus vanishes.

In extreme cases, your specialist may try to treat the tinnitus medically. Tricyclic antidepressants may help reduce the ringing you hear, for instance. The doctor can suggest lifestyle changes which should alleviate the symptoms and make living with tinnitus easier, such as using a noise machine and finding ways to handle stress.

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 struggling with tinnitus.

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