Tinnitus

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Kbiggs
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Tinnitus

Post by Kbiggs » Fri May 17, 2019 9:28 pm

Anyone have this? I’ve had mild tinnitus for several years now, after a cold that developed into a sinus infection and bronchitis. I don’t notice it unless it’s really quiet. It gets worse when I have a cold, and then it goes away.

However, in March of this year, I had another cold and sinus infection, and I’ve had pretty loud tinnitus ever since. There’s some pressure in the ears, too, which I can feel with loud bass sounds.

Worse yet, when I play, I get a funky “resultant tone” that’s kind of an out-of-tune fifth that wavers around a bit. It’s annoying, distracting... maddening.

I’ve been to an ENT. Nothing. Hearing test revealed mild high-end loss consistent with my age. No other findings, no pathology. I’ve taken decongestants, antihistamines, saline nasal rinses, sleeping on an incline. No change. The audiologist suggested using hearing protection when I play, esp. when playing with others.

Anybody have tinnitus? Anybody done anything that has helped? Thanks in advance.
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Burgerbob
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Burgerbob » Fri May 17, 2019 9:50 pm

I have light tinnitus in both ears. My left ear will distort sometimes in high pressure situations (playing loudly, usually). Mine isn't loud enough to be distracted by, at least yet. If I focus, I can hear it in most situations, but I tune it out unconsciously. I can only hear up to 14k or so.

I wear earplugs in many situations, which helps any future damage. Small practice rooms, most ensemble situations of a certain size, driving my Miata, watching movies at the theater, etc. I always have a pair in my pocket (just cheap Etymotic plugs). I also sleep with foam earplugs in.
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JohnL
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by JohnL » Fri May 17, 2019 11:36 pm

Did the audiologist or the otolaryngologist mention anything about clogged Eustachian tubes? Maybe due to scarring as a result of your various infections?
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by brassmedic » Fri May 17, 2019 11:58 pm

Yes, I have it. I try to protect my ears as much as I can. I've had it for a long time, and I don't believe there is any way to reverse it. There are no other symptoms - no pressure or congestion, just a ringing sound. I tend to ignore it 99% of the time and forget it's even there most of the time. I don't think it's the kind that is a symptom of a sinus infection; doesn't that go away when the infection goes away?

Trying to protect your hearing can be frustrating in performance situations. A lot of people still don't understand the risk to your hearing caused by loud sounds. I've heard comments like, "Does it really bother you that much?" They don't get that it's not an issue of being "bothered"; it's an issue of having your hearing permanently damaged. I know lots of older musicians who are very hard of hearing from so many years of sitting next to loud instruments (or in some cases even your own instrument).
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Pre59
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Pre59 » Sat May 18, 2019 2:35 am

I've got low level tinnitus in my left ear, thankfully at a single high frequency which makes it hard to identify as a note. I put this down to working as a bassist with loud drummers in tight hard wood corners on cruise ships.
It's manageable, and doesn't have an obvious note, mechanical element, or a rushing sound etc, and I have found reducing coffee intake helps a little.
I'm currently on a course of meds to clear my right side clogged eustachian tube, which after a few days seem to be working, and the doctor hinted that if the tinnitus has an infection component, that the penicillin may help with that.
Kbiggs
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Kbiggs » Sat May 18, 2019 8:50 am

JohnL wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:36 pm
Did the audiologist or the otolaryngologist mention anything about clogged Eustachian tubes? Maybe due to scarring as a result of your various infections?
No, they didn’t. I will ask. My family doctor did when this all started, but I’d forgotten about it. I will follow up with them.

I believe that allergies are playing a part in this, too. In my corner of the world, there’s a lot of tree and grass pollen.
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by TheSheriff » Sat May 18, 2019 9:11 am

----

I've been dealing with it for 30+ years. I basically ignore it and I'm okay 99% of the time. When I begin to be bothered by it I know it's time for me to remove ear wax, so out come the ear wax removal drops and water blaster syringe to get it out of there. After that I'm back to ignore mode.

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Kbiggs
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Kbiggs » Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:46 am

Update: I had a second opinion, which was basically the same: tinnitus is usually idiopathic—doctors rarely know what causes it, and there really aren’t any effective treatments for it except in extreme cases.

The best suggestion I received was from a tuba-playing friend and mentor: “I’ve had that for 30 years. I’ll tell you what my audiologist told me: learn to make friends with it. It gets better.”

Yes, I can depend on my tinnitus getting worse when I have a cold or a sinus infection, in colder weather, after a loud rehearsal (even with earplugs), or when I’m stressed. But ya know what? Making friends with it works. Acceptance is the key.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:45 am

Kbiggs wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:46 am
Yes, I can depend on my tinnitus getting worse when I have a cold or a sinus infection, in colder weather, after a loud rehearsal (even with earplugs), or when I’m stressed. But ya know what? Making friends with it works. Acceptance is the key.
Yeah, pretty much.

Some people also like to have ambient noise when sleeping like leaving the TV on, but your ears need rest to recover from stressful days. Lack of auditory rest while sleeping can aggravate hearing damage. This unfortunately can be at odds when someone already has tinnitus, as it's tempting to have some kind of noise to help hide the tinnitus to help go to sleep.
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GMB
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by GMB » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:48 pm

Kbiggs wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:28 pm
Worse yet, when I play, I get a funky “resultant tone” that’s kind of an out-of-tune fifth that wavers around a bit. It’s annoying, distracting... maddening.
I got this once after a stream of throat infections a long time ago (don't remember the interval but I know it was something horrifically out of tune, probably a fifth as well), I noticed it while the harpist was tuning her harp before a concert or dress rehearsal... Thankfully it went away within a week IIRC, I noticed it was getting better after a few days but if it wasn't I'd have gone to a doctor. So unfortunately I don't have any advice but it went away for me so I hope it will for you.
BurckhardtS
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by BurckhardtS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:45 am

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:45 am
Kbiggs wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:46 am
Yes, I can depend on my tinnitus getting worse when I have a cold or a sinus infection, in colder weather, after a loud rehearsal (even with earplugs), or when I’m stressed. But ya know what? Making friends with it works. Acceptance is the key.
Yeah, pretty much.

Some people also like to have ambient noise when sleeping like leaving the TV on, but your ears need rest to recover from stressful days. Lack of auditory rest while sleeping can aggravate hearing damage. This unfortunately can be at odds when someone already has tinnitus, as it's tempting to have some kind of noise to help hide the tinnitus to help go to sleep.
I think this is important. Doug Elliott posted something on the old TromboneForum many years ago about how it's important to get rest after exposure to potentially damaging sounds, and I have had to do that multiple times now and I still pass hearing tests with flying colors. I always try to bring earplugs with me, but sometimes I forget. I have been right next to the drumset in a big band or pep band, and the bell of the lead trumpet player in the back of my head multiple times without earplugs, and so far I haven't had any problems if I rest my ears aftewards.
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by musicman46001 » Thu May 28, 2020 9:54 pm

I am new to this forum, but am finding various topics to be quite interesting. Tinnitus, yes as a professional musician/music teacher/conductor, it has developed over time, but so far is tolerable. Mine takes the form of "white noise", a hissing that I notice when it is quiet, or there is no other ambient sound. Often, I just ignore it, but it is quite strange when the hissing seems to travel from one side of my head to the other in a slow moving wave back and forth!
A good friend had to stop tuning pianos because the pitch that was ringing in his head was about 5 cents flat of concert B-flat! He could conduct choirs, and perform other musician duties, but trying to tune an instrument "by ear" became impossible.
My Audiologist said that "they don't really know why it happens or how to stop it", so she gave me a pair of low-power hearing aids to hope to drown it out! :idk:
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Fri May 29, 2020 4:45 am

I’ve had it all my life. It got worse in 2000 when I was working in a store, and the fire department decided to test the fire alarm directly over my head. No cure, they say. I found and am reading a book “When The Brain Can’t Hear” which has me thinking the doctors are wrong about deafness. Remember the Sam Burtis refrain - Try everything, use what works.
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by slipperyjoe » Fri May 29, 2020 12:09 pm

I have tinnitus accompanied by hyperacusis in both ears. My right ear is much worse and I suspect my asymmetrical symptons are due to many years of playing bell-up euphonium.* The tone in my right ear increases in 'volume' substantially while playing any musical instrument, so I only play with a practice mute.
I gave up on playing with people several years ago and perfectly fine with music as a solitary pursuit.

(*I remember having ringing in that ear as early as high school and didn't think much about it at the time. Big mistake.)

I've listened to pink noise through SleepPhones for years, which has helped me to sleep although I now find that the noise is starting to enhance the right ear tone. I'm fiddling around with the earphones volume to find the right amount of masking. Environmental noise masks the tone 80% of the time during the day and I've learned to ignore the rest.

My 8 years of experience with the custom Westone-Etyomtic ER25 earplugs combination has been interesting. From the outset, they were adequate for some live music performances (e.g., early music, which a primary interest) and most school assemblies while I was teaching. They were never suitable for in-theater films and were just barely enough for community band until I packed it in 6 years ago. Forget most indoor jazz concerts. I still wear the plugs at early music shows. I listen to hardcore punk at home, where I can control the volume. :tongue:

The plugs are not now suitable for playing any brass instrument and I wonder whether or not they were ever suitable and have indeed worsened my hearing damage due to amplification resulting from occlusion (stick your finger in your ear and hum or play a horn). A significant amount of energy reaches the inner ear, including from the mouthpiece via the skull. There is a brand of custom molded plugs that adds vent holes to reduce occlusion, but reviews are mixed. If I insert a foam 30dB reduction earplugs as far as possible occlusion is ameliorated, but then I can't hear anything. I've experimented with materials and placement quite a bit.

My audiologist hypothesizes the damage to higher frequency-responsive hair cells reduces cushioning along the cochlea, which exacerbates hyperacusis. The only thing to be done is careful masking and minimizing further damage. I was advised to steer clear of people playing unmuted band instruments at all costs, which is advice I heed.

With a practice mute my maximum sound, if I really blast, at the music stand is 75dBA. I keep it below 70dC, which is still playing loudly, relatively-speaking. It's a few dB lower at my ears.

I generally avoid potentially loud situations unless I have control of the volume. If a show is unexpectedly too loud, I walk away without batting an eyelash. I've 'donated' more than my share of concert tickets over the years.

It is what it is. I still get to enjoy playing and listening, so it's all good enough.
Last edited by slipperyjoe on Sat May 30, 2020 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
BurckhardtS
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by BurckhardtS » Fri May 29, 2020 9:08 pm

I think I have some slight swelling/congestion in my right ear. I have no measurable hearing loss, but many years of sitting right in front of great (but loud) lead trumpet players and right next to the drum set in big bands - and I foolishly didn't wear earplugs for a good chunk of it. I use earplugs now, but try not to use them until I have to.

E: and I just saw I've already posted in this thread, nice.
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Kingfan
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Kingfan » Sat May 30, 2020 9:45 am

My tinnitis is a side effect of medications I'm on. Annoying as hell sometimes. Hope to be off it someday.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are still missing! :D
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by Cotboneman » Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:59 pm

For me as a high school band director for over thirty years, hearing loss and Tinnitus seemed like an occupational hazard. The dB level of a marching band in an enclosed practice space I have been total can approach the volume of a 747 jet engine.
Despite using earplugs in mid-career, I started losing hearing in both ears in my early 40's, which was often replaced with white noise in both ears, especially when was quiet in a room. It seems to come and go, or maybe I've gotten so used to it that I don't pay attention to it much, unless I'm reminded - like writing this post! :D
I finally saw a doctor about it and was prescribed hearing aids, which I do wear, but not as often as I should. I really need them most now post career for conversations in crowded, noisy restaurants, but since we're not eating in at restaurants these days I need them less.
Since retiring, I have tried wearing them while playing in my community band, orchestra and gigs, but even at low volume they are just too loud. Or maybe I'm playing too loud! I would advise any new band director to not do what I did and ignore the hazards of teaching in high volume situations. Protect your ears with good ear plugs in those rehearsals. They will definitely save your ears later in life.
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Re: Tinnitus

Post by baileyman » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:45 am

Whatever you do, avoid percussive high pitched noise. Triangles and bells could be really bad, slamming cymbols. In my case it was a hammer that killed some frequencies in my right ear and gave me a note ringing, some hyperacusis related to that frequency. If you experience such a noise and your ear turns off for a while, dassit. It's like sawing your finger off. You'll always feel it's there, but weirdly, those frequencies will be missing.
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