by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
This is the third of three tinnitus stories, illustrating different effective coping mechanisms used by each of these three people. No one thing works for everyone—so you have to see which coping strategies work the best for you in reducing your tinnitus.
Here is “Sandra’s” story. She explained,
My tinnitus is quite loud on the average—around 6 or 7 (out of 10). Some days it’s at a 8 or 9, and will last at that loudness for a couple of days.
My tinnitus was triggered 10 hours after getting a flu shot. I truly believe it was the mercury that is used in it that did it. I have had it ever since. For weeks after the shot it was at a 10 and I thought I would lose my mind. Fortunately, after a few weeks it started to lower to a 7 or 8.
I tried to function and tried many methods to lower it further. For me, the tranquilizer Xanax [Alprazolam] helped tremendously. I take it still and my tinnitus is down to 5-6 most of the time. But there are certain things that will make it to go higher.
For me stress and anger are biggies. When I first get up it is the loudest. In fact some mornings I feel this humming feeling in my body right after I wake. Then the noise escalates immediately. When I am not stressed that does not happen at all. I will just get a 5 level upon awakening, and then increase to a 6 or 7 as I get busy. But on stressed days, only taking Xanax helps.
When I need to get something off my chest as in anger it gets very loud. It will not diminish unless I get rid of the anger or hurt. But it had not ever gone down below a 5 or 6 in the 4 years. that I have had it.
What helps the most is if I take a Xanax and change my environment by going out, or visiting my daughter or grandchildren. My mind is switched from my previous thoughts to feelings of pleasure being with family. Hence the noise comes down a peg or two. I have got myself adjusted to the noise level of 5-7, but if it goes above that I begin to get scared, and that makes it even worse. It takes a lot of coping and family support to get through the “loud” days.
Certain drugs also greatly affect my tinnitus. For example, Pepto Bismol (the pink stuff) can increase it two-fold. [Pepto Bismol has the same basic salicylate ingredient in it that is in Aspirin and related products.] Today I had to take the Pepto Bismol and sure enough the ringing is getting louder by the hour. By tomorrow it will be full blown 9-10, and I’m not looking forward to it. But I had to take it to help my stomach. Then by the next day it will start to go back to around a 6 or 7.
There are some things that make my tinnitus worse besides stress and drugs. Salt, too much sugar, chemicals, cleaning agents, bug killers, if the TV is too loud for too long, if I am overtired and my mind is thinking a lot to name a few.
My tinnitus drops to a 5 when I occupy my mind on something pleasant. Other things that help my tinnitus is not harboring resentment, and getting enough sleep.
From “Sandra’s” story we learn how closely tinnitus can be associated with our emotional and mental states, and how important it is for us to “keep an even keel” and not harbor anger and resentment, or get stressed out over things. Deliberately changing the environment and thinking “good” thoughts works for her. You might be surprised how well it can work for you too.
I don’t advocate taking drugs such as Xanax (Alprazolam) because this drug belongs to the Benzodiazepine class and is dependence-forming. (Trying to get off such drugs can make your tinnitus “awful” so it is better never to get hooked in the first place.) However, taking a anti-depressant occasionally when you find it most difficult to cope with your tinnitus is not all bad as “Sandra” found.
Also, observe which drugs, chemicals, cleaners, etc. aggravate your tinnitus and avoid those things. There are ever so many tinnitus triggers, and it is up to you to find which ones make your own tinnitus worse.
If you are interested in learning more about tinnitus and the many things you can do to help bring it under your control, you would do well to read my book, “When Your Ears Ring! Cope With Your Tinnitus—Here’s How“.