Tinnitus questions...please, serious replies only

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by sleazylenny, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN
    This question goes out to those who have had experience, firsthand or otherwise, with tinnitus.

    My drummer has recently acquired a rather bad case of it. It came on very suddenly, coincidentally shortly after starting to use in ear monitors. Prior to this, he was very diligent about wearing ear protection.

    It came on after a Friday night gig and worsened over the course of three days. From the description he gives me, it is very intense. His sleep is disrupted and he fears that he may have to give up drumming.

    His ENT ( ear, nose and throat specialist ) has been rather negative. " live with it. get out of music. nothing I can do to help " The audiologist has a slightly more optomistic outlook.

    My drummer has been looking into homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, and such. Conventional medicine offers no hope thus far.

    I'm wondering, while looking for that ray of hope, that it could be an acute, temporary condition. I've read that some cases increase over a short period of time, then abate , completetly or at least to a lesser degree.

    So I'm asking you all for your knowledge, experiences and information. My drummer is pretty distressed. I really hope this can be cured/ solved/ helped somehow.
    This guy's one of the good ones, and I'd like to continue making music with him. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That really stinks. That's something I worry about some. My grandfather has tinnitus.

    Here's a helpful webpage if you haven't already seen it:

    The most common herbal remedy for tinnitus that I've heard of is gingko biloba. My grandfather tried this and it didn't help at all. Also there is an interesting article on the above website that quotes a double-blind test done in Britain that showed conclusively that ginkgo biloba wasn't any more effective than a placebo at treating tinnitus.
    Some people, however, claim to have been helped greatly by it.

    brad cook
  3. superfreak

    superfreak Unregistered

    Aug 18, 2002
    Clarksville, TN
    I am pasting what I found on Webmd for you...it may be long...but it may also help your drummer friend...hope it helps...

    Tinnitus Treatments

    Even if a specific cause is never found, there is still hope for successful treatment. A combination of therapies over time usually offer the best hope.

    Biofeedback, relaxation training, counseling, and individualized psychotherapy helps manage stress and helps you change your body's reaction to the tinnitus. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) combines counseling with special background sounds designed to help people suppress the sounds of their tinnitus.
    Antianxiety medications, such as Valium or Xanax, as well as a wide range of antidepressant medications, are very helpful for tinnitus sufferers. Other medications, such as diuretics (water pills), muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants medications, and antihistamines, are also used.
    Special hearing aids, electronic masking devices, or both, are often used when other methods have failed to achieve control. Cochlear implants and cochlear stimulation devices are being investigated for severe, intractable tinnitus cases. Surgical injections of lidocaine directly into the inner ear are also being used in some cases.
    Alternative treatments such as hypnosis, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, vitamin/mineral supplements, and herbal remedies may have some promise, but there is little, if any, meaningful research as to their effectiveness. Ginkgo biloba -- which is being studied to determine its effectiveness for tinnitus -- is said to improve blood flow and nerve function. Use ginkgo biloba with caution if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners. Explore alternative options carefully, with the cooperation of your medical providers.
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I have a very mild case of it. I minimise it by using earplugs (bought from Mike Dimin-shameless plug-sic).

    It gets worse if I hear loud noises and loud noises are painful for me. I always carry my ER20's and use them for firework displays, gigs (as a punter) roadworks etc.

    It gets worse if I get tired. That is the downward spiral with this condition. You can't sleep so it gets worse so you can't sleep. Some people play music very quietly to drown it out whilst going to sleep.

    I don't need to do this but if I did I would invest in one of those timer power plug things and set it for about an hour so it turned off the music.

    I have noticed that it has got gradually better over the last year.

    Tell you mate that he has my sympathies.
  5. I recall Tony Levin once mentioning that in-ear monitors give a false sense of security--there's no more effective way to damage your hearing than sound delivered directly to your ears at super-short distances, despite lower overall stage volume. I feel really sorry for your drummer and hope this serves as a cautionary tale.

    BTW, this applies to anyone who uses headphones/earbuds for anything, be it listening to music, gaming, talking on the phone/radio, etc.
  6. I, too, experience tinnitus. I've had this for years and it is persistent, night and day. Sometimes it is quite loud, and other times it is not as pronounced, however everpresent. Many of us experience this with age. I'm fifty-three. Tinnitus is something that usually occurs with hearing loss. I have a slight hearing loss in the range of the human voice and my audiologist told me that hearing aids may reduce the perception of the ringing and hissing that I hear with tinnitus. I have yet to use hearing aids, so can't give first hand advice on the remedy. I'm surprised that someone has had success reducing the tinnitus by using earplugs. When I plug my hears, the ringing and hissing sounds increase. Although, I believe that by using earplugs, one can lessen damage to the inner ear and may prevent tinnitus. I appreciate the above remark about using in-ear monitors. I have considered using them and will now rethink the use of anything stuck into my ear. Thank you.
  7. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The House Ear Institute (www.hei.org) has good info and therapy for tinnitus.

    I have frequent tinnitus in my right ear, and it seems largely interrelated with the eustachian tube dysfunction that often crops up in that ear. When my allergies flare up, the blockage tends to recur, and that high-pitched tone gets annoying again.

    Tinnitus can be caused by simple things, too, like wax buildup putting pressure on the eardrum. Caffeine, aspirin, and other things you ingest can often aggravate it.
  8. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    it can be from nicotine and alcohol as well. the number one leading cause in a live musical situation:

    the cochlea, or inner ear has tiny hairs called cillia all throughout it. when overly loud noises are picked up in the cochlea it causes them to die. the sound of them dying is what we perceive to be tinnitus, or an often high ptiched ringing in the ears.

    unless the in the ear monitors are form fitted to block out all stage sounds they will not protect from that. if they do but are turned up to high they can cause further damage.

    contrary to what you might hear, there is no cure for it (other than removal of the cochlea causing total deafness) that is 100% effective. the best cure is prevention. the best prevention when playing at a normal volume is not feasible is good, volume-cutting foam ear plugs. (approx. $4.00 for 4 sets at walmart). you can get custom fitted ones that are much better but they cost around $100 dollars. no,you won't hear as well on stage or in practice but it is much better than not being able to hear at all down the road a few years...

    i would check with an otolaryngologist (ear nose throat doctor) and an audiologist before i tried any new age, or medical supplements. you'd be surprised at how little a general practitioner knows about this stuff, would you take your car to jiffy lube for a total transmission or engine overhaul?

    if you have trouble sleeping at night from tinnitus set a radio between stations so that you hear the static. it will cancel out most of the frequencies keeping you up...
  9. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN

    (And thanks for the input)
  10. I have 24/7 high-pitched ringing in both ears, but fortunately it does'nt stop me sleeping. As was said previously, cymbals are the big culprit. I know of no cure, all I can do is make sure I'm not exposed to anything that's gonna make it worse.
    If your friend's ringing came on reasonably rapidly, I think there is reason to believe it will be temporary. Eddie Van Halen was quoted as saying his ears would ring for two weeks when he came off a tour, and then settle down.
  11. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    My ears have had a high frequency ring for ten years. That is day and night, non-stop. It is worse if I have a fever, take certain medicines or happen to be overtired. Caffeine was mentioned above. I never knew that, but I wonder if that might not be one of my culprits. I drink lots of green tea.

    The only help I have ever found to mask the ceaseless ringing is with noise such as a fan or by always having music playing or the TV on.

    If I am alone with no noise the ringing just really gets to me. I'd like to be alone in the quiet for peace, but tinnitis is a very intrusive disorder.

    Also it has increasingly impacted my ability to sort out sounds. For example, if I am in a noisy restaurant, I can't really hear friends at my table because I can't sort out what they are saying from conversations at nearby tables or general restaurant noise.

    Also, I can no longer converse and watch TV at the same time. I need to turn off the TV sound to converse or not converse and watch the TV. It is just too hard to separate the sound.

    Your drummer has my deepest sympathy. I only hope that his condition is temporary. If he is younger than I am (I am 59), he may have a better chance of improving. Hopefully, maybe it will be less severe with time. Tinnitis can have temporary flare-ups, then decline somewhat.

    I do think drum cymbles ruined my hearing, but it was the snare drum that made my head pound. That's one of several reasons I no longer play in bands. I just couldn't take the drums any more.

    I have a frriend who plays double bass in an orchestra. He says what kills many string-players' ears are the horns, especially the trumpets.
  12. Oh Wow!!! I could have written the above post by Boblicity. That exactly my describes my symptoms and how I hear (I'm 53). As I said earlier, I've been told by the audiologist that hearing aids may reduce the tinnitus, but I haven't purchased aids yet to see if that actually is an effective remedy. Hearing tests indicate that I hear perfectly at the high end and the low end of the human audible range. The mid-range, where the human voice is, is where I have some hearing loss. I can hear OK in a "one on one" conversation, but because I hear highs and lows so well and with any extraneous noise in a group setting (restaurants......etc.), verbal communication is quite difficult for me too.
  13. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    off topic, but do you have a link to the site where i can look at some before buying please, i currently use foam ones and they seem great but a bit 'muffling'

    cheers :)

  14. Foam ones cut out all of the sound, but they have a differing frequency response - they cut out some noises better than others. THe ER-20s have a uniform frequency response - so you still hear everything, but quieter (at least that's my experience of them!)
  15. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    My sister's husband has tinnitus from years of working in the steel industry, and that got me thinking. I ended up getting individually fitted ear plugs with exchangable filters, 9, 15 and 25 dB attenuation. It has taken some getting used to but I now always use them. The 9dB filters are good for my jazz/pop band and live gigging (don't want to be too cut off from the sound), the 15dB ones I use for practicing with my blues/rock band which is much louder, and the 25dB filters I use when riding my motorcyle (the wind noise inside a helmet at highway speeds can be quite extreme). It was expensive but they work brilliantly. There are cheaper ones available from music stores or pharmacies, just make sure you get plugs that have an even attenuation for all frequencies, otherwise they will not work so well for singing for instance. A great benefit from using the plugs is I hear the bass notes better, the filters take out a lot of the sound pressure and boominess on stage. It was expensive (all in all about $300) but definitely worth it. I don't want tinnitus if it can be avoided.

  16. I use the disposable foam ones when I'm on my bike - I know what you mean about wind noise inside your helmet.

    I've often thought about getting the customised earplugs. One of these days , I reckon I'll invest in them.
  17. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I have mild tinnitus and I went to an audiologist and bought custom earplugs too. I wouldn't play in a group setting without them. I was in a group that wanted to go the route of in ear monitors, but I wouldn't do it, I believed they were dangerous and with what you say happened to your drummer, I certainly will continue to consider them dangerous. I hope the rest of you also take care with these things.
  18. Puretone in the UK do a variety of Tinnitus masking devices.

    They also sell the ER range of the muso plugs.

    Hearnet is a useful link that ALL of we muso types should have a look at.
  19. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
  20. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN
    Once again thank you for all the input. My drummer is soldiering through it all, some days better than others. He's going for MRI's, dental appointment, ect... to make sure something else isn't causing the problem. But he's still gigging, minus the in-ears and with 30db plugs for protection. So he's not furthering the damage, which is good, but the constant ringing is quite maddening. I was surprised by the suddeness of the onset coupled with it's severity. That really sucks considering how careful he was prior to the in-ear monitor use.

    I think he felt the on board compression/limiting in his system would keep him from getting hurt. Jeez, if this happens to a lot of people, I could see where a class action suit could eventually pop up.

    Anyhoo, taking a bit of caution from this whole ordeal, I've taken to using earplugs myself. I was using the cheap foam ones and was surprised by how much better I could hear my bass without the guitar masking it. Unfortunatley they are a bit over kill, I mean I need SOME volume to get my ya-yas out!. Do they make plugs that are frequency specific? Just blocking out highs? Or better yet, ones that just block out guitar:D