Bats in the belfry

Bats in the belfry

My ears started ringing a few months ago, triggered no doubt by an ear infection. The infection is gone, the ringing, known as tinnitus, remains. At first it was a major deal, I had a few sleepless nights, wondered how I could cope. Happily for me, the ringing is now at mild levels and is steadily decreasing (I’m fortunate, some get tinnitus and it never leaves or lessens – read on.) Plus, I’m learning to block it out.

That’s the fascinating part (and the greater lesson.) You can learn to block it out. If you listen for it, it’s there. If you don’t listen for it, it’s gone. 

I mentioned tinnitus to a friend who said, Oh I’ve had that for decades. A few weeks later I asked him a question about it, and he said, actually, until you first asked me about it, I’d forgotten for fifteen years that I have it.

And that is the key! As in so many things, your reaction to it is the important thing. Some let tinnitus intrude messily upon their lives, others learn to ignore it. I mentioned what my friend said to a family member who is often in chronic pain. She said, wow how could he forget he has it? Then she said, wait, I just went to the doctor. He asked if I was in pain, and I actually had to think about it, yes, I said, I am in pain, lots of it, but I’d forgotten it was there.

That is the best, maybe the only, path. Yes, do whatever you can to find a cure or ways to lessen it. But in the meantime don’t focus on it. Train your mind to go elsewhere.

Not that this can be easy. An MD details his horrific tinnitus, which nearly totaled his life.

It began as a persistent hiss in both ears and rapidly became a constant unrelenting overwhelming sound like a cross between a screaming teakettle and a thunderous jet turbine.

Not to mention the even more horrific Patulous Eustachian Tube

It is more common in females than males and classically presents with symptoms of roaring tinnitus, synchronous with respiration and distorted autophony with echoing which is occasionally severe enough to interfere with speech production.

With this, when you speak, you hear the words echoed in your head in distorted form. Yikes.

I’ve come to learn that several friends deal with almost daily pain, sometimes quite severe. They’ve learned, as much as possible, to tune it out. So, my little mild squeaking in the ears seems a bit trivial in comparison.

The amazing thing to me about all this is how we can learn to tune out things that might otherwise flatten us and continue on with our lives.

American Tinnitus Association

Dr. Nagler’s Tinnitus site

Dr. Grossan. ENT MD. Online consultant.

Update: From the comments. The Hearing Doctor helped a friend tremendously.

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a cause. It can be triggered by many things. If you have it, first thing, see an MD.