I cannot figure it out. I don’t listen to music at a super high volume, I don’t attend many loud concerts, I don’t use a lot of power tools. I’ve been to loud airshows, but those have been few and far between. Side story: back in college I had to go pick up a friend from the airport. His flight was delayed, so I waited for him in the airport bar. As I was drinking my Dr. Pepper, I chatted up the lovely woman sitting next to me. She was maybe a few years older, and the conversation was lively, but soon my friend’s arrival signaled the end of our time together. If I were in a sitcom or if I were any other living man in the world, I would’ve at least tried to get her phone number. But it never crossed my mind. I just enjoyed the time with her. Now for the weird coincidental part. The next day I was back at the airport with my parents for an airshow. As we approached the gate to enter the grounds, I realized that the person taking our airshow tickets was the woman I had spoken with the night before. She gave me a big smile and hug and said “Good to see you again!”, leaving my parents to wonder what sort of secret life I was living as I hadn’t mentioned meeting her before. And of course, I still didn’t ask for her number. I also didn’t wear hearing protection at the airshow.
Getting back to loud music and noises: I now have tinnitus. It is a constant humming in my ears, with a slight accent on the higher frequencies. It almost sounds like a million fluorescent bulbs are turned on all around me. For many months, that is exactly what I thought it was. I’d ask the family if they could hear the lights in the house like I could, and they would just look at me oddly. I eventually realized that I was the only one who could hear it. Well, technically it isn’t something I really am hearing. It is certain auditory nerves going crazy because I damaged them, sending signals to my brain about sounds that aren’t really there. On day 71 I deliberately started doing things to take care of my hearing. Today, I’m going to do things deliberately to try to get rid of my tinnitus or at least reduce it.
The first thing to do, according to the research from WebMD, is to remove possible triggers. This includes reducing or eliminating caffeine, alcohol, aspirin, and salt. The second thing to do is to remove the silence, to play soft music or white noise. The third thing to try is to relax, as stress can exacerbate tinnitus. Harvard health has similar ideas and also outlines what my next steps might be if my tinnitus worsens. But I’ll wait until my next ear appointment in December.
For my deliberate action for today (or actually yesterday since I’m a day late posting), is to reduce caffeine and salt, and play white noise while I’m at work.
Photo by: wikimedia.org