1.Hi Sandra, tell us a bit about your condition. How long have you had tinnitus? What symptoms have you been getting? Is the sound you hear there all the time, or is it intermittent?
I have had Tinnitus since October 20th of 2011. I hear it every day but it is not as intrusive as it once was. When I first got tinnitus I had some symptoms; I had hyperacusis and headaches. Thankfully they both dissipated with time. The only thing I have now is the tinnitus itself.
2. How did you actually develop tinnitus in the first place? Has anything in particular triggered it? Can you tell (or guess) what the underlying cause is?
I developed tinnitus by going to a concert. I went to a very small club and stood next to the speaker for about 2-3 hours and ever since then I have had it. When I first got tinnitus, I would notice that working out would trigger it to become louder, but I think it had a lot to do with my anxiety and my constant fear of it.
Nowadays, nothing triggers it because I never think about it. I have no idea what the underlying cause could be, since people have told me that tinnitus can stem from such different variables. Maybe it had to do with the concert I went to, but it could have been something else. But as of now, I classify my tinnitus as being caused by loud noise.
3. How did it use to affect your day-to-day life when it started? What impact has it had on you in the past?
When I first got tinnitus, I was a complete wreck. I had never had an anxiety attack before this time. I also needed anxiety medicine to relax me when it got really bad. My studies also suffered and I wouldn’t eat so I lost a good amount of weight. I couldn’t sit still for very long and I felt as if my entire future was ruined and that I could no longer enjoy times with my friends. I felt very alone and very sad. I was only 20 years old when I got tinnitus so it scared me a great deal knowing that I could possibly have this sound in my head for the rest of my life. I, however found support groups and people who suffer like I do, older people and younger people like myself. I felt very comforted by the fact that people would relate to me. It took me six months to fully habituate to the sound and my life as of now is completely normal. I think that getting tinnitus showed me how strong I am and how much I can handle because I am still here and still standing.
4. Have you had somebody to diagnose it? Have you been to see a GP, audiologist, or any traditional health care providers about it? What treatment did they offer?
The first week of having tinnitus I went and saw my ear doctor. He ran some hearing tests but everything checked out normal. He was the first one ever to say the word ‘tinnitus’ to me seeing as I had never heard of it before then. He said to me that I had a high chance of it going away but that there was nothing he could do for me. He told me of something called Lipoflavanoids which he said didn’t work but people had tried it.
5. Have you tried any alternative treatments, dietary/lifestyle changes, or treatments not offered by traditional health care providers? Have you had any success with of them?
In my first few months of having tinnitus, I tried to eat better seeing as I had been told that salt can make it much louder. I tried a homeopathic approach as well but it did not work. As of now I work out about 2-3 times a week and try and eat as healthy as possible. But no, I don’t do anything for my tinnitus anymore.
6. Have you seeked counseling or therapy? In particular, have you looked into sound therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy? Did any of them help?
I never seeked therapy but I have looked into sound therapy or retraining my brain but all that costs a lot of money. I found my support groups online via Facebook and they have all been wonderful and they were honestly my therapy.
7. how did you eventually start to cope with it? Do you manage it better now than when it first started? What impact does tinnitus have on you today?
I remember the night where I was so broken. I had begun writing in a journal to get my thoughts and feelings out so it wouldn’t eat at me in my own mind. I remember wanting to take some anxiety medication really badly, but I would try and stay away from the medication seeing as I didn’t want to become addicted to it. I was in so much pain mentally and emotionally though, that night. I eventually took some medicine and I completely calmed down and went to bed. The next morning I felt like a different person. I wasn’t worried anymore, I wasn’t in fear anymore. It sounds like it was an overnight process but it wasn’t. I think I just started to realize that if I just stay calm then the noise won’t seem so intrusive. I started to do things again and take my mind off of it and after a while I was beginning to be okay again.
8. These days, What do you do to manage your tinnitus? What do you do when it gets particularly bad?
I try and keep my music low so that I don't damage my hearing or make the tinnitus worse and that I advise for people to do the same in keeping their music at a reasonable level to preserve their hearing.
Also, There are days where my tinnitus will be louder and it annoys me and I just say “Ahhh tinnitus you’re so stupid” and then that’s it and I forget about it. I continue doing what I was doing and then after a while it doesn’t seem so loud anymore.
9. Do you believe there's a single “silver bullet” cure for tinnitus? Do you believe there will ever be one?
Do I believe as of right now there is a cure? No. I think that there should be a cure, but I also understand that the inner ear is a complex concept. I believe that in the future there will be a cure. But as someone once told me that there might be a cure and that would be great, but until then I shouldn’t sit here and wallow and be sad. I should be out enjoying my life because if I don’t it’s going to just pass me by and that’s what I have been doing so far.
10. Anything else you’d like to tell us that we might have left out?
I just want to tell all the people out there who are suffering with this condition that it can honestly get better. I never believed it myself, but it does. If you give yourself time to heal and to really learn to accept it, then you can be okay. Tinnitus is a part of my life but it’s a small, tiny, miniscule part. It used to be my whole life but because I let it be my whole life. Nowadays it takes a back seat to most things I do. If anyone is looking for online support groups go to Facebook and type in American Tinnitus Association. They’ve got great articles and also always post when there are support group meetings in certain areas. Another piece of advice is to invest in some good ear plugs. Not the foam ones you can get at the drug store. Some really nice musicians ear plugs. I don’t use them often, but if I know where I will be going is going to be pretty loud I take them with me and they help out a lot. No reason in trying to protect your ears a little bit. Just go to Amazon and type in Musicians ear plugs and you’ll find a plethora of options. You’re not alone in this fight, please remember this. Tomorrow is a new day and you will determine how good of a day it will be, not your tinnitus.
Thank You Sandra Rodriguez!