By: Natalie Buttress
About 4 months ago, my right ear started to quietly sing in the background. I have had occasional ringing in either ear before, but this was on one side (my right), and constant. I can’t identify the exact day that it began, but I can say that it was, what we audiologists term a “sudden onset”. At first, I ignored it, because I assumed it would go away. But it didn’t. In fact, it began to fluctuate and even get louder! Gradually, it began to annoy me. At the end of each day, I was irritated with it and snappy at my family. I couldn’t hear well either, because the incessant noise got in the way. I couldn’t fall asleep at night and I was tired and suffering from poorer concentration in the day.
I went to a GP who told me that I am stressed (true), and that there was nothing he could do, and that I should try to calm down. I know that stress can contribute to tinnitus, but, being an audiologist, I also knew some facts about tinnitus that added to what I needed to do.
Tinnitus, especially when it starts suddenly and is one-sided should not be left. It should be assessed by an audiologist. So that is what I did! My hearing assessment showed a slight drop in the conduction of sound at just one frequency on my right ear. The nerve looked fine, but the pathway was not transmitting the sound properly. An ENT, using my audiological results, agreed that a short course of cortisone and a nasal spray may help. It did…… a bit. Then, since I had loads of neck tension, I received some physiotherapy. I checked my vitamin D and took some supplements. Lastly, I had my teeth checked, because when I’m stressed, I grind my teeth at night.
My tinnitus is better, but not gone. I am currently managing myself according to audiological best practice with sound management and relaxation techniques. I will check my hearing again soon and see the ENT again, simply to ensure that I haven’t missed anything. But most importantly, I am working on my peace and acceptance of what is, rather than trying to find a single magic bullet.
Do you experience the symptom of tinnitus? Our audiologists know about tinnitus, and we can support you. We can help you to rule out a cause that needs medical treatment from one that requires supportive management techniques, and acceptance.
And I’ll be right here with you, managing my own.