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ADawson

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello, everyone!

I am a fairly new user to this site, but have been lurking for the past few months. I was hoping to get some advice on how to proceed, since I seem to be getting worse and am having trouble improving. I currently have tinnitus and hyperacusis (but no pain), as well as symptoms consistent with TTTS (my eardrums kind of 'pulsate' when I hear an impact sound or running water). I have also developed a startle reaction to sudden noise that sets off my fight-or-flight response.

To give a little backstory, my first symptom started with aural fullness after seeing a loud action movie in theaters last August. I was put on a course of prednisone, but developed tinnitus in my left ear five days later. Through reading about tinnitus, I became increasingly nervous about it worsening and began wearing earplugs when out at restaurants. About two weeks after the initial symptoms began, someone sneezed loudly to my right, after which I developed TTTS symptoms in my right ear (that still persist). I noticed that everything seemed to be louder, as well. Loud noises became uncomfortable for me and seemed to lead to increased aural fullness.

In December, I made the mistake of reading into Acoustic Shock Disorder and became nervous of everyday sounds causing acoustic shock. I developed a startle response to unexpected sounds (even some soft sounds), which included my wife's voice. This still persists, but I have began taking SSRI's and benzos to help calm down (it doesn't seem to be having much effect currently). 

Ever since late December/early January, basic sounds around my house seem to be uncomfortably loud for me. I constantly worry of my symptoms worsening and even lost my job over it. I have been wearing earplugs with 15dB protection all day at home, but sleeping with a fan on without ear protection. I know that constantly wearing ear protection is likely making me more sensitive, but I am unsure how to get out of this at this point. 

I guess that have a couple of questions if you'd be kind to share your thoughts:
1) Does this sound like I may have Acoustic Shock Disorder?
2) I have found it very difficult to seek out care for this (I live in the US) and fear becoming worse. What should my next step be?
3) Is there any advice for how to increase my sound tolerance when I already can't tolerate the own sound of my voice (or most voices) at regular volumes?
4) How should I best go about overcoming the startle response?

Thank you for reading this and for any advice!
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EDogg

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Reply with quote  #2 
ADawson,

I’m glad you are reaching out yet am sorry to hear of your struggle with this. I cannot speak to acoustic shock, as my hyperacusis derived from acute chemical/toxin exposure, however a number of others on here have noise induced hyperacusis and may be able to address that further.

You ask: How do you get down to the bottom of this? It certainly sounds like you have developed hyperacusis with tinnitus, and likely some component of phonophobia or misophonia. First, if you haven’t already, you should seek out medical evaluation (often from ENT or otologist) to exclude a structural cause (which is very unlikely). Do not be surprised if they do not have a very good understanding of hyperacusis. That’s unfortunately very common. If there is no structural cause, I suggest you seek out proper evaluation and diagnosis by an audiologist who specializes in hyperacusis and tinnitus. Click on forum topic TRT Workdwide List of Clinicians at top of the page to find one. Or you could ask on here and perhaps someone has had a good experience with a practicianer near you. It will give you tremendous peace of mind confirming what you suspect, learning more about your particular challenges from someone who understands the condition, and developing a treatment plan catered to your particular needs. This will likely help address a number of questions you have raised. You need a proper evaluation first.

You have done your best to work through this on your own and you are really struggling. That’s ok. Please know that you are not alone in this as many have walked this path before you and have found a way out to live rich and full lives. Take comfort in this. Read the success stories on this site if you need encouragement. Many of us can totally relate to this experience and suffered months, and some, years before getting a handle on it. As you have likely figured out, if left to it’s own devices, Hyperacusis has a way of pinching your sphere of life into a tiny, restricted area, making the outside world seem foreign and offensive. It is counter intuitive to think desensitization by sound exposure, the very thing that causes you discomfort, can help. But it does, for the vast majority of folks with this condition. It is time you get some help through a complete medical and audiological evaluation. Then you can have a treatment plan and start on a new path towards recovery.

And try to steer clear of Dr Google. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can make things worse.

Best,
EDogg
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aliberry

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Reply with quote  #3 
the qs I can offer an opinion upon;

3) Is there any advice for how to increase my sound tolerance when I already can't tolerate the own sound of my voice (or most voices) at regular volumes?
4) How should I best go about overcoming the startle response?

Im also new to this site and forums in general so excuse errors please!
I am in the UK and have had H plus T for many years, gradually worsening, but was undiagnosed till a couple of years ago. There is seemingly scant knowledge about it in the health service and general public. I've heard that in the US wearing specially designed noise-cancelling headphones is an option, don't know if its true!
I'd try keeping a journal for a few days to note which situations caused the LEAST disturbance. Think about what was going on when you were in an 'ok' patch. For example, I like to walk in local woodland as there is birdsong, the gentle hush-hush of wind in trees, nearby canal boat engines chugging softly, and little else. I find it enough of an overlay so my Tinnitus is inaudible and it helps in acclimatising against distant dogs barking and walkers laughing/talking. Otherwise I end up getting stressed if I see a dog or kids coming towards me, even before there is any noise... adrenaline then sensitises hearing and raises anxiety.

Identify which frequencies are most comfortable for you and put together a recording of sounds at these levels (plenty of public domain/commons resources for material) and have it playing at low levels - preferably not through headphones though you might start with that. Gradually increase the volume as you become accustomed to the background noise, your brain will learn to accept and tolerate more and 'filter' it into 'not worth noticing' category. You will probably still get unexpected sounds that make you jump - that's life! But I am finding that because my overall anxiety and anticipation is lower, these incidents are decreasing in number.

Startle responses are about the brain anticipating danger. If you read up on 'Panic Attack anxiety-reducing' exercises there are lots of techniques - for me the best is;
step 1 'Acceptance' ... ok something startled me, thank goodness my brain is alert to danger, that's useful.
Step 2 Question it - what exactly is the danger here? Be rational... should I move away?
Step 3 Take some slow breaths; use visualisation to 'colour' the air going in as pale turquoise and absorbing the soothing waves into your body - then breathing out slowly the air that is now 'soft pink' ...and as soon as your heartbeat slows, do something, anything, to distract yourself from ruminating on the incident. Go make a cuppa, do a crossword, make an origami bird, calculate Pi etc!
Textures help me too - a velvet scarf to stroke, or a smooth pebble in my pocket.
I use these colours as their frequencies for me are ones that work, and both are recognised in Reiki as communicating healing/loving colours. Just use your own preferences.

Hope it all gets easier for you - and your wife!

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"not staring at your teeth, just lipreading"
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AnthonyO

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thank you 'aliberry' for you quite kind, considerate AND very useful message to us all!  Everything that you noted makes very good logical sense.  When you talked about...

<<<...I like to walk in local woodland as there is birdsong, the gentle hush-hush of wind in trees, nearby canal boat engines chugging softly...>>>

...that brought a calm to me as I read, as I can think of a couple others here on the Network that too, gain comfort from experiencing peaceful walks in nature, that calm the body; muscles & nerves.

Also, you talked a bit about 'Acceptance' and just how to work with that in positive realms.

Your thoughts & insights here are very well received.

Thank you!

AnthonyO
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aliberry

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Reply with quote  #5 
[blushes] ... just glad I was able to offer something that may help the OP or others, AnthonyO 

It can be a very lonely condition. Sharing on here helped me to realise how isolating it can become if we allow it to dominate our lives.

Namasté, all x

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"not staring at your teeth, just lipreading"
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Queenmacha

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hi,  It's been a while since I posted anything on Hyperacusis Network Message Board,  but just reading some of your Posts, reminds me that while things appear bleak for Hyperacusis sufferers,  with the condition being ignored or brushed under the carpet here in UK/IE, at present.  There have been many conditions that people suffered from in the past and solutions/cures were found.  So that will happen in our situation.  It's simply a matter of grinning and bearing it for the duration until a solution is found.  Thank you
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joe mc gahan
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