My Experience With Tinnitus

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For anyone who suffers from tinnitus, they know how annoying – and in some cases – downright frustrating it can be. I’ve been suffering with this condition for over three years, although I’ve had it for more than three. Up until three years ago, it was more of a minor distraction most of the time.

What is Tinnitus?

For those who don’t know, tinnitus is a condition of the ears where a person “hears” noise in one or both ears, sometimes constantly, but not always. According to my doctor, there are many causes but what has occurred is that the tiny sensory hairs inside the ear have become damaged. This causes “noise” that can be detected by the person with the condition and has been often described as a “ringing,” “chirping,” or “buzzing” sound.

It apparently can be caused by many things including ear damage from loud noise, blood circulation issues in the ear area, and even aspirin intake can cause it. That was interesting to me – when I was a child suffering with arthritis and other things, there was a long period of time when I was prescribed 36 5grain aspirin tablets per day. Could that be what has caused my tinnitus? Or.. all the loud music I’ve listened to over the years? A combination of things? Who knows.

It can be mild, or in some cases, extremely frustrating as the “volume” can grow. This is what has occurred to me over the past three years, but today, for the very first time, I seem to be free of tinnitus since I woke up this morning, about 6 hours ago. I’m actually astounded by how quickly it has gone away – and I keep checking to see if I can “hear” that dreadful noise. I can’t. And everything else around me sounds normal.

I hope that this is not temporary – but even if it is, I am so happy to have some relief from it! I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing the past few days and that I believe has lead to this cessation of chirping and buzzing noises but first, I’ll write about my own experience with tinnitus.

Tinnitus Wasn’t Always Bad – Hearing Crickets In The Distance

I’m not really sure when I first began to experience tinnitus. I suspect I had it long before I really noticed it. I can recall a night about 8 years ago, sitting on the balcony of a hotel in Jasper, Alberta with my then girlfriend, enjoying a pleasant evening. The reason I remember it is because it later became a joke between us. I could hear crickets in the distance, but she could not. I thought it was odd that she could not hear the crickets as well as felt sorry for her as I rather enjoy the sound of crickets at night time. I really couldn’t understand why she could not hear them; her hearing was as good as mine I had thought.

In retrospect, I now believe that was my tinnitus condition – I wasn’t really hearing crickets in the distance, but was hearing “things,” as some might put it. Not that I was “hearing things” in my head, but in a way I was.

Some time later (perhaps a couple of years), during a winter night while laying in my bed, I was thinking about my day and had been reading about the idea of “listening to the sounds of silence.” And it was then that I realized as I focused on hearing “silence,” that I was actually hearing some kind of chirping in my left ear. It didn’t bother me much other than I thought people are going to think I’m nuts if I tell them I can hear what sound like crickets in the middle of winter with my windows closed.

I began to pay a little more attention though, and indeed I realized there was always some kind of noise in my left ear. But it never really bothered me much so I didn’t bother to look into it.

Hearing Music When None Is Playing

Time went on – and one night in the middle of winter, I realized I could hear what sounded like music coming from the distance. It seemed very odd to me that anyone would be playing loud music in the winter time – loud enough that it be audible in my office in my house with all the windows closed. I couldn’t make out the music as it sounded like it was coming from far away, but I could definitely hear some kind of rock music playing. Then, as I turned my head to the left – it was strange – the style of music seemed to change although I could still not make out what it was that was being played.

I got up from my chair to investigate where on earth the music was coming from, and as I did, it stopped. And then I began to wonder, not even thinking about the slight buzzing I had been hearing in my ears, if indeed, I “really was hearing things.”

This went on for several days – and I finally noticed a pattern: When the central heating came on, along with the central heater fan, that is when I could hear this “music” which seemed to come from my left side. At that time, it really didn’t bother me and in fact it amused me, but I still figured if I told anyone, they would think I was nuts.

It wasn’t until some time later when the buzzing and chirping in my left ear became a little louder and more noticeable did I start to think about what was really happening.

Tinnitus In Both Ears

Up until just over three years ago, I only experienced this in one ear, and it was not uncomfortable. I actually got used to the “ghost” orchestras and bands that play music for me when the furnace fan came on. I intuitively knew that it was not “in my head” (even though no one else could hear it), but that it must have some rational and physical reason to do with whatever this noise was in my ear and noise vibrations from the furnace fan. I couldn’t identify the music when I heard it, but it wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me either, and always sounded like it was being played in the distance.

However, in the spring of 2013, I came down with a severe flu-like infection that really knocked me out. I ended up with an ear infection in my right ear that was severe enough to perforate my right ear drum and bled. That’s when I decided to see the doctor a few days later. He confirmed I had an infection and that the ear drum was perforated. By the time I was able to get into see the doctor, I was recovering and feeling better. The doctor assured me that my ear drum would heal and I’d be fine in a short time.

Except – that is when things with the tinnitus got really bad. Now, not only did I have it in my left ear, I had it in my right ear, and it was no longer something that was simply a distraction at times. It was constant and it was very loud in both ears. Over the past three years, I’ve usually hated talking on the telephone as often I cannot hear what the other person is saying, I’ve had to live with this constant noise that is sometimes hard to explain – sometimes it’s like crickets, sometimes it’s a “buzz,” and the most annoying of all is that both ears have had different pitches.

Living with tinnitus can be very difficult at times. It can cause sleep problems, it can cause issues with trying to focus on work, it can interfere with conversations, and sometimes you just can’t hear normal things. Sometimes, you might hear things, and wonder if it’s the tinnitus, or something “real.”

After it became really hard to live with, I went back to my doctor who diagnosed the tinnitus. He explained that he knew of no cure and that I’d have to learn to live with it and suggested that I try using fans, or some other recordings of noise to mask the sounds in my ear. I was also sent to an audiologist where my hearing was found to be excellent at most frequencies, but some where it was not so good.

But I was told there was nothing that could really be done except to try to learn to live with it. And so I have. But over the past few weeks, it has gotten progressively worse. There have been evenings sitting on the sofa with my son watching some old TV series, and I’d have to ask my son to turn the volume up; I simply could not hear or make out what people were saying. The noise in my ears at times has been unbearable.

My Tinnitus Free Morning

After so many years of having this utterly frustrating and annoying condition, I seem to have at least, temporarily found total relief from it. I started to do some research last week and to be honest, I wasn’t too optimistic after reading so many other peoples’ experiences and frustrations. But I did read some science papers as well as some doctors notes and decided to give something a try:

  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Niacin
  • Sublingual Vitamin B12

While I did find a recent paper that reported that there is NO evidence that Ginkgo can help tinnitus, I came on some other references that it is actually an approved treatment for the condition in Germany. I did some more research and found some papers that indicated that after 6 to 12 weeks, 120 mg 2 X a day did seem to have benefit from some tinnitus sufferers. So I got myself some high quality Ginkgo (it should be standardized). And I prepared to try this over the next couple of months.

I also read of some doctors finding niacin to be helpful for some tinnitus sufferers. What is niacin? It’s one of the B Complex vitamins – also known as Vitamin B3. I am familiar with Niacin – it can have a weird effect when taking it in a large single dose. Again, when I was younger, I had a condition known as “Rayneaud’s Disease,” which is when you lose blood circulation to your extremities including hands, feet and in my case, also my tongue. This would occur with me, when I would feel chilled. At the time, medical opinion was that there was no cure or treatment for Rayneaud’s other than to try to warm up the areas affected until blood flow returned.

However, when I was about 14 years old, a medical doctor in Ontario (considered a “quack” at the time), recommended I try niacin. Sure enough, it seemed to help my Rayneaud’s. Whether that’s what it was that helped… I don’t know for sure. I realize correlation is not causation.

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is found mostly in organ meats, fish and eggs. You can’t get it from vegetable sources of food, but we need it, and according to some of my research, it can be difficult to utilize as you get older. A couple of the doctor’s notes on tinnitus recommended sublingual vitamin B12 along with the niacin.

Several days ago, I decided I was going to give this a try. So for the past three days, I’ve been taking:

  • 500 mg Niacin 2X A Day (morning and before sleeping)
  • 5,000 mcg Sublingual B12
  • 120 mg Ginkgo 2X A Day. (morning and before sleeping)

I didn’t notice much effect over the past three days since starting this regimen. Last night, the tinnitus was bothering me. After reading everything that I had read, I wasn’t expecting to see any results anyhow, for some weeks.

After I woke up this morning, I realized…. all the noise was gone! As I’ve been writing this for the past couple of hours, I keep worrying that maybe it will come back.. but there is nothing. It really is a mini-miracle. Personally, I think it has more to do with the niacin than anything else – but I am going to continue this and see what happens. I’m hoping that this may actually help others as well – although like anything, I’d probably be irresponsible to not suggest you talk to your doctor – although I never talked to mine about trying this regimen.

At this point, I can’t even say for sure that the tinnitus is permanently gone. All I do know is that for the first time in years, I am not being annoyed, frustrated, by chirps, buzzing, sounds of crickets… or the sound of music in the distance. Perhaps I’ll miss that last one 🙂 But I have plenty of CD’s here.

If you suffer from tinnitus… perhaps it is something to try. It might not help everyone, but it would be great if it helped some. I really don’t know if it’s the combination of the niacin, Ginkgo and B12, or just one of them (although I’m sure it’s not B12 alone) – but I’m going to stick with this. If there any changes, I’ll update this post.

3 thoughts on “My Experience With Tinnitus”

  1. Olli Raitakari

    Interesting story. Have the beneficial effects lasted? Any update would be of interest. Have you been able to clarify which of these 3 supplements was the one responsible for the treatment effect?

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