Tinnitus, the loathsome bells of brain injury

I have lived with tinnitus since I was a child. Loud music at a school disco (yes it was the 80’s) made, my ears ring, but it never stopped. So I learned to deal with it and got on with my life. Fast forward to 9 December 2014, and I had a car accident in which I sustained a serious traumatic brain injury. I had lots to deal with so those bells where not high on my agenda initially. But now I think they are worse than ever.

Causes of tinnitus.

Tinnitus is not a disease or illness in it’s own right, rather a symptom of something else. Unfortunately the exact cause still isn’t fully understood, but it is thought to be a problem with how the brain interprets what the ear hears. It can be as simple as a loud noise causing damage to the inner ear, as is my case, or as complicated as a brain injury. Oh wait, that’s me too. For a more comprehensive list, visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Tinnitus/Pages/Causes.aspx

Brain injury survivors can suffer from tinnitus
How it’s worse now.

I had learned to tune out the noise in my ears and focus on the real world. But that seems harder now. Perhaps that’s because there’s more damage, or maybe it’s just because my brain is focusing on other, more pressing matters. Either way the noise is louder than I remember it being before, and it does drive me nuts!

It definitely seems worse when I’m stressed and fatigued. There are times that due to my light and noise sensitivity I need to lie down in a dark, quiet room. But when you have tinnitus this is when those bells really stand out. With no other noise to focus on those bell ringers in my head have a party!

What can help?

When you have a brain injury, sleep is even more vital than ever. But for me that’s when I have to work harder to drown the bells out. So I find it useful to listen to something quietly so I have something else to focus on. I usually go for either guided mediation, or a sleep hypnosis track. Not only is this a different noise, they both help me to relax. It has been shown that stress has a negative effect on tinnitus suffers. The last thing you need is to be stressing about how you can’t sleep because those stupid bell ringers don’t know when to have a day off!

There are other options out there as well, such as downloadable apps that emit white noise. I’d rather put music on, but it might be good for you.

Probably the best advice I can give you is to make sure you stay hydrated and don’t have too many stimulants. Alcohol and caffeine both can be responsible for dehydration and they can disturb your natural sleep cycle.

Tinnitus and brain injury


DISCLAIMER: no bell ringers where harmed in the making of this article.

One of the best things about hearing, is being able to talk to your friends. But with a brain injury having a conversation can difficult for many reasons. We need that contact, so read my suggestions in How to enjoy a conversation after brain injury.

Other articles you might like:

Are you affected by tinnitus, and have you got some useful tips to share?

Tinnitus is the dreaded ringing of the ears. I have suffered with it for many years, but it's worse after my brain injury. But I'm trying to deal with it.



5 Replies to “Tinnitus, the loathsome bells of brain injury”

  1. My wife has TBI and tinnitus. We run an air purifier in the bedroom and it hums along. But what I’m pursuing is a mixture of helium and oxygen. While visiting a doctor for (so many I can’t remember why) she was given a mixture of helium and oxygen and found instant though temporary relief.

  2. Hi Michelle, good post! I have tinnitus as a result of chemo therapy. It’s a side effect of one of the drugs they use. I’ve had it for about 4 mths now. I will finish chem in 2 more weeks, but this effect may be permanent. You’re absolutely right, I notice it more when it’s quite, like at night laying bed. I use a sleep mate sound machine which puts out a fan like noise. It helps!

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