How does one determine if the sounds you hear are real or tinnitus?

Posted by awilst @awilst, Aug 16, 2021

how does one determine if the sounds you hear are real or tinnitus? I wear hearing aids , & have had high pitch/light ringing tinnitus for years.
Recently I have begun to hear very loud low pitch motor idle, rumble sounds. these noises seem to start & stop at regular times. usually begin at 2 am & run till 6 am, (with few exception). (POOL PUMP??). I can almost feel the vibration in floor or bed when they occur.
wife says she does not hear it or feel it.
I have double hip replacement in me, so metal resonates energy. not sure if that is why I could be sensitive???
I downloaded several decible meters to phone & so far, cellphone says low decibles, but lots of frequency activity , up to 2.5k. not sure how to proceed. any ideas.
I saved the data so if anyone out there is sound engineer I can send saved screen shots of db.
went to ent guy, got sluffed off. didnt want to deal with question.
ps also wondering about infarsound??

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss group.

they do make hearing aids capable of blocking out tinnitus. My brother recently got some hearing aids that can block it out. My dad use to wear them and they was years ago. They have come up with some much better ones. My tinnitus never stops. Sometimes the sound is high pitched and sometimes it will change to something else.

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Someone said, now that others have same issue, she knows she’s not crazy— or maybe we are ALL crazy. She was optimist I’m guessing.

I have what you have ever since chemo & radiation. I figured it was some kind of glowing green light I’m giving off now too. Lol

Apologies for being silly. I do have it and know that it’s no fun. Every morning 5:30 I hear rock music. My husband swears it’s quiet while he gets dressed. One day I’ll get up and double check. Vibrations yes. We just left LA, I always thought it was small earthquake and would look at ceiling fan pull chain. But they continue here and no more pull chain. I see one cat sleeping soundly across the room so it’s me.
I also have thumping in one ear- came during chemo went away and now it’s back.
I think unless we give ourselves to researching our brains, we need to do best thing which is learn how to stay calm and serene even w the world collapsing around us.
I look bigger/ globally- I’m alive 👍 I’m able to be happy 👍 I can feel compassion for others even though I’m not in the best of situations. 👍 I’m glad that I have all of you to learn from 👍 I know that when, not if, a cure is known that we will hear it here first. Thank God for all of you living w nit picking issues and worse everyday and still come here to add to someone’s quest for info.
I never knew I had so many diseases, aches, and health issues until I started responding here. So thanks guys for allowing me to feel like a total broken down, heap of bones- glad I could contribute. 👍🥰

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One more thing about real sounds- my tinnitus is so disruptive that when I take hearing test I say at beginning—- I don’t know if I’m hearing test noise or if my ringing is making noise. They usually say go ahead and raise your hand if you hear anything. It truly is the worst. I think if I didn’t have tinnitus I wouldn’t need hearing aids. But with mine so profound these past years it’s way down and off the chart so I guess I’ll keep them. Actually thinking of implant- maybe hybrid. But that’s another day. Wish I couldn’t hear snoring. God has a plan I suppose.

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@naturegirl5

Hello, @awilst. This is certainly a puzzle and I can only imagine how disruptive this recent change in your tinnitus is affecting your well being. I'm not a sound engineer so I cannot help you there. Like others on this thread I too have tinnitus. My tinnitus in nature is high pitched and more like ringing when it does occur. If I "listen" as I'm doing right now I'm more aware of it. The period when it has bothered me the most was when I was under a great deal of stress at work and I remember being aware of how disruptive the tinnitus was during a particularly difficult meeting. Other times the tinnitus bothers me is at night. My body is at rest but my mind is not (big clue to me right there!) and with the quiet in the house I'm very aware of that irksome ringing. Here are some references that may help you to understand the different types of tinnitus.
https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/tinnitus/
https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tinnitus-ringing-in-the-ears-and-what-to-do-about-it
I would like to encourage you to follow up with a physician and/or an audiologist who will help you with this. Do you live near an academic medical center? If so, there is likely a medical provider on the faculty who specializes in tinnitus. Are you near Mayo Clinic in Florida, Arizona, or Minnesota? If yes, then you might ask your family care provider for a referral to Mayo Clinic or inquire into an appointment yourself.
http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63
Blessings to you.

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Hi Helen, sorry to here you have it as well. I just woke up and it’s loud. My sleeping habits are poor because of stress so this is unfortunately what will happen. I had major cervical spine surgery last June and now on September 29th I’m having a total colectomy .
Prior to all this I had plans to become a patient at Mass General Boston Tinnitus Clinic. My surgeries are all at Brighams & Womens and they are affiliated. I don’t have a Mayo near me.
I just have not been able to get going again with research and meet with them. I do see an audiologist and since it started 5 years ago my hearing has declined but not for regular hearing aids. I’m a huge believer in acupuncture for the vertigo and ringing. I have a PT therapist who does house calls to come in and perform the eply maneuver which is a true blessing for me when severe. I had an mri and it was normal.
I do need to make another appointment with the audiologist and ENT. I constantly at least 4 days a week have one blocked ear. It’s always my left. I use a netti pot every day. I often think it’s fluid. I don’t know if it’s tinnitus related or another issue.
I used to keep a journal of everything for the first two years because it really wrecked havoc on my life but never being able to figure it out.
Alcohol makes it worst so that was the first thing I stopped. I sometimes think my neck surgery made it worse. I had acdf 3 fusion last June. The neurosurgeon said he was positive prior to surgery it wouldn’t help because other patients he had it did nothing. Then because I’ve had many surgeries I thought does anesthesia do anything. I never have pulsing or hear my heart beat in my ears.
I recently received my last covid vaccine last Sunday. I’m 66 and don’t leave the house much so I waited and it has been worst this past month, so did the vaccine aggravate it? I believe you never know. I’ve done so much research, been on so many blogs and have had many tests. In the end I feel it’s best to try to learn how to live with it. It can be very difficult so I focus on that till I can get an appointment at Mass General. I stay on all the blogs and find many have the same issues like napping making it worst, stress and alcohol. I’m a vegetarian so I eat healthy usually. With this upcoming surgery my diet is not good. Thanks for your info and best of luck. Keep trying new ways to get through it and when I simply can’t I try to accept the day and push through…Joanne

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Initially I was reading without signing in. This is for the woman who takes amitriptyline to help with her tinnitus, which I also have. This is what is called a tricyclic antidepressant and is an anticholinergic. Long story short, you are at significant risk of developing dementia. I'm a regular person, not a doctor. I don't know your age but please learn about this medication. I took a tricyclic until SSRI's became available and I take sertraline (generic Zoloft) now. If you doctor won't listen to your concerns find a psychiatrist. Personally, I would much rather live with my tinnitus than develop dementia. Bless you and good luck…or make your own luck.

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Buzzing, Humming, radio off station,variables louder /softer, some hearing aids deaden the sound some

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Does anyone experience walking imbalance with tinnitus and problem with concentration? The sound just gets so loud it disrupts daily life.

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Late response to Joanne Narna | @mothermary1

There IS a cure for vertigo: daily vestibular rehab therapy (VRT) exercises. I have Meniere's, have had serious vertigo for nearly 40 years, but it's not a problem as long as I do some VRT every day…not most days, EVERY day. As I've gotten older (I'm 79 now), I've lost some ability of my lower legs and feet to "tell" me what's underfoot, so I have to concentrate on exercises to make me more aware of that.

There are three balance systems. The primary one is your inner ears. When they fail, it's totally natural to depend upon vision for balance, but that's a really bad deal and means vertigo: every time you move around or even move your head, your focal point changes. That's what causes the vertigo: you have no stable focal point to rely on. So, you need to learn to use your third balance system, proprioception–the information you feet, knees, hips, etc. provide IF YOU LEARN TO LISTEN! The way to do that is to stand with your eyes closed, then graduate to walking in safe places, like a hallway or a person beside you, eyes closed. At first, do this in sock feet so that you have more contact with the floor. Later, add shoes, which make it harder to understand what your feet are telling you. When you walk a distance, like outside, do NOT look at the ground underfoot. Instead, check for obstacles within the next 10-20 feet, then look out at the view or up at the sky as you walk that distance. My current assignment from my VRT specialist is to walk a distance very day on our gravel road, eyes closed. I can tell when I'm close to the edge because there's far more loose gravel piled up along the sides of the road. I also walk the long distance of our gravel driveway with the traditional grass center: that's makes it easy to tell when you stray off the driveway (or off the grassy center strip if that's your preference).

The other thing to do is to walk in low light situations every day. Do NOT rely on night lights because that means you're using vision to balance. Walking outside, if there's not lots of ambient light, is good. I live where there are no streetlights, no glow in the sky from lots of lights, and all the surfaces are hilly, pocked with pocket gopher mounds. Great place to banish vertigo!

Even though I'm nearly 80, I still do instream surveys for our state fisheries agency, in a stream 20 miles from any cell reception, miles from where I park, entirely by myself. Every spring I install temperature monitors to track the temperatures of both the river and major tributaries all summer, removing them in the fall. One of them is placed in a waterfall (!!!) and requires crossing the river at a place where there's lots of current swirling around big boulders, hip deep–a real challenge. I clean my own gutters, am currently working on painting the exterior of the house. FWIW, challenging your vestibular system by working off a ladder will result in improved balance for at least two or three days. I hate cleaning gutters (who doesn't), but I plan a trip to wade a river a day or two afterwards to enjoy the increase in stability!

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@julieo4

This is an interesting post. I hope others will contribute to it. My tinnitus is always like 'crickets', so I cannot compare to what you are experiencing.

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I understand. I’ve always described mine as hearing the bugs when I went camping as a child. Like the Cicadas.

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@joyces

Late response to Joanne Narna | @mothermary1

There IS a cure for vertigo: daily vestibular rehab therapy (VRT) exercises. I have Meniere's, have had serious vertigo for nearly 40 years, but it's not a problem as long as I do some VRT every day…not most days, EVERY day. As I've gotten older (I'm 79 now), I've lost some ability of my lower legs and feet to "tell" me what's underfoot, so I have to concentrate on exercises to make me more aware of that.

There are three balance systems. The primary one is your inner ears. When they fail, it's totally natural to depend upon vision for balance, but that's a really bad deal and means vertigo: every time you move around or even move your head, your focal point changes. That's what causes the vertigo: you have no stable focal point to rely on. So, you need to learn to use your third balance system, proprioception–the information you feet, knees, hips, etc. provide IF YOU LEARN TO LISTEN! The way to do that is to stand with your eyes closed, then graduate to walking in safe places, like a hallway or a person beside you, eyes closed. At first, do this in sock feet so that you have more contact with the floor. Later, add shoes, which make it harder to understand what your feet are telling you. When you walk a distance, like outside, do NOT look at the ground underfoot. Instead, check for obstacles within the next 10-20 feet, then look out at the view or up at the sky as you walk that distance. My current assignment from my VRT specialist is to walk a distance very day on our gravel road, eyes closed. I can tell when I'm close to the edge because there's far more loose gravel piled up along the sides of the road. I also walk the long distance of our gravel driveway with the traditional grass center: that's makes it easy to tell when you stray off the driveway (or off the grassy center strip if that's your preference).

The other thing to do is to walk in low light situations every day. Do NOT rely on night lights because that means you're using vision to balance. Walking outside, if there's not lots of ambient light, is good. I live where there are no streetlights, no glow in the sky from lots of lights, and all the surfaces are hilly, pocked with pocket gopher mounds. Great place to banish vertigo!

Even though I'm nearly 80, I still do instream surveys for our state fisheries agency, in a stream 20 miles from any cell reception, miles from where I park, entirely by myself. Every spring I install temperature monitors to track the temperatures of both the river and major tributaries all summer, removing them in the fall. One of them is placed in a waterfall (!!!) and requires crossing the river at a place where there's lots of current swirling around big boulders, hip deep–a real challenge. I clean my own gutters, am currently working on painting the exterior of the house. FWIW, challenging your vestibular system by working off a ladder will result in improved balance for at least two or three days. I hate cleaning gutters (who doesn't), but I plan a trip to wade a river a day or two afterwards to enjoy the increase in stability!

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Hello and thank you so much. I have never, not once in all these years of suffering ever been offered this. Can you tell me how to locate someone who does this please. It sounds like a specialty thing. I will try anything. I will research and hope to hear back from you. I know many fields have a speciality field. I see a physical therapist that only does pelvic floor disorders. I’m wondering if these specialist are tough to find. I’m looking. Many thanks,Joanne

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Joanne,

I'm very fortunate in that I live two hours away from one of the nation's earliest/best vestibular centers, in Portland, OR. When I first had real problems with Meniere's nearly 40 years ago, VRT was a new thing with very few people who practiced it. I was a moderator for the online Meniere's Discussion group until about four years ago, as it began to disband, so I was aware of places that offered VRT as they popped up–the House Clinic in LA and a clinic in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to mention two. There was one in Texas, because one of the VRT specialists often participated in the Meniere's Group. The one in Portland was involved with testing astronauts before and after early space flights (weightlessness) to see how they affected balance; they developed the machines that test one's balance (or lack thereof) and many of the exercises. Dr. Eply, of the Eply Maneuver, was also a Portland doc. The national non-profit for dizziness and imbalance (VEDA) got started in Portland. I believe that now some of the Mayo locations offer VRT.

ENTs don't have specialized training in balance issues or the complexities of inner ear diseases like Meniere's or MAV (migraine-associated vertigo). MAV wasn't even known until about 25 years ago; it is correctable with standard migraine meds, unlike Meniere's, which has no known treatment that actually works other than aids or CIs for hearing loss and VRT for balance. These diseases have no known cure and are extremely difficult to diagnose.

When I was really ill with Meniere's over 35 years ago (for four miserable years), there was no one even in Portland who offered VRT, so I learned from the woman in Texas, via e-mail. I learned more while editing and designing the first book about Meniere's by corresponding with the author via e-mail. At the time, it was believed that VRT was useless until you quit having crises; later it was learned that's not always true. I finally found a safe combination of hormones (my personal trigger was low hormones) while I was working on the book, so the timing was perfect: once I started taking megadoses of hormones, I quit having crises of 12-15 hours 2-3 times a week. I remained free of those "vomit fests" until a little over two years ago, when I went bilateral–and it took me almost a year to find a local doc willing to prescribe hormones for a woman in her late 70s. Again, two weeks after starting large doses of hormones, I regained the hearing in one ear that I had had prior to going bilateral and quit having crises. For the first time in nearly a year, I heard a bird sing and I could hear the dishwasher or washer running–terribly exciting after a year of being nearly totally deaf!

Because I had never actually gone to a VRT therapist, I scheduled visits to Portland's Legacy Good Samaritan Vestibular Clinic for a refresher course. I have to work harder on VRT exercises now because my lower legs and feet have lost some of their ability to "talk" to me, due to age. Yesterday, I had to make at least a dozen trips up and down the stairs to our loft, and realized that I need to work on my little step: five times down and up with the right foot, eyes open, then five times with eyes closed, the the same with the left foot. All VRT is simple stuff to make you aware of what your feet have to say–which means you're learning proprioception, the only way to balance when your primary inner ear system is kaput. Another thing I do is walk the quarter mile on our gravel road every day to the mailbox with my eyes closed; I can feel when I get close to the side of the road because the gravel is deeper. I think about what my feet are telling me all the time I do this. I also walk in place on a thick foam mat, eyes closed–a real test. I try to walk around outside in the dark: our entire mowed yard area is hilly, full of gopher mounds, so it's a good place to practice. Never use a night light of any kind: you know where things are in your house so should be able to walk around in the dark safely once you start doing VRT. The nice thing about VRT is that you can do lots of it while doing ordinary things (like retrieving the mail)!

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@awilst For me, the way I determined it was indeed tinnitus was to block my ears to see if the sound was still there. It was. I notice it less when I have my hearing aids in, probably because I there are other background noises. When I am in bed though the sounds come through loud and clear.
JK

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