Tinnitus, And Why Is It On A Fitness Site?
You might be familiar with tinnitus, you might not be.
For those of you who are, please accept my sincere apology for the fact that you have to deal with this condition, I know what it’s like, trust me. I have had a new neighbour in my head in the form of whistling and humming since 2012.
For those who don’t know what it is, please allow me to introduce this horrible condition that nobody talks about, but nearly half the world’s population suffer from it.
WHAT IS TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is a term that describes any excess noise you might hear in your ears, whether it’s whistling, humming, chirping, ringing or anything you can possibly imagine!
These sounds can be continuous (my case) or they can come and go. The sounds can also change intensity and frequency, in other words, it can change from whistling to buzzing in a second.
It can trouble people in one year or both with completely different intensity and frequency in each year. It can sometimes sound like a chaotic cacophony of sounds that is trying to rip your head off.
Nobody really knows what causes tinnitus in the first place. There is evidence that it commonly affects people who work in the music industry and are exposed to loud music on a regular basis.
More and more people with ordinary jobs are developing tinnitus every year, however, and it’s been a mystery.
Although there is a British Tinnitus Association, NHS has a tinnitus dedicated page on their website, and there is even a Tinnitus Clinic in London, nobody still has any clue as to why thousands more individuals develop this condition every year.
WHERE DOES TINNITUS COME FROM?
To explore the first evidence of tinnitus’ presence, we’ll have to go all the way to Ancient Egypt. (They seem to know everything about everything, don’t they?)
There is an ancient text that mentions “bewitched” ear and humming in the ear. They suggested a blend of oils and herbs to be administered into the ear canal to get rid of the condition.
Mesopotamians also mentioned “whispering” in the ear and tried to cast it away with chanting.
Nobody has come with a 100% effective cure, not even in 21st century. It was the Romans who first suggested to use other sounds to mask the sounds tinnitus makes us hear. And this method is still used today. But it’s not a cure.
In the Renaissance period, the “professionals” of that time claimed that it might be a trapped wind in the ear canal and suggested curing it with drilling a hole into the back of the skull. You can only imagine how well did that go.
In 1812, the otologist Jean Marc Gaspard Itard managed to differentiate between “true” and “false” tinnitus.
He claimed that “true” tinnitus is extremely rare and it can be heard by both the patient and the observer. The experts call it “objective” tinnitus.
The “false” tinnitus is much more common and it’s a sound that only patient him/herself can hear. Instead of the word “false”, professionals nowadays use the term “subjective” tinnitus.
WHY DID I INCLUDE THIS TOPIC ON MY FITNESS WEBSITE?
Tinnitus is hardly connected to fitness, you might think.
But if you do suffer from it, it can sometimes pretty much ruin your day.
And that, for a fitness fanatic, can be incredibly devastating. Tinnitus can cause sleepless nights resulting in significant energy deficit, which can have a huge impact on performance.
That’s why I’ve decided to include a Tinnitus Category for those of you who might relate to this issue, so we can share advice and support. Everyone is different and therefore we all have different experience with various “cures”.
Someone might have a story to share, where a certain vitamin helped to decrease tinnitus symptoms. Someone else might have had a success with osteopathy. I’d love to read your comments. This is a serious issue, which can have a massive impact on mental health.
Mental health has become even more important now, due to coronavirus pandemic. I know I have struggled with my own tinnitus a lot more recently and wanted to reach out to you, who have a similar issue and might be worried.
You are not alone, tinnitus has caused me a great anxiety.
HOW HAS TINNITUS IMPACTED MY PERFORMANCE
Sleeping has been a major issue.
If I cannot sleep due to my tinnitus being too disturbing, (sometimes it gets to the point that it sounds like a jet plane taking off in my head), I get tired, which causes me anxiety. Sometimes this vicious cycle goes on for days and, if I’m extremely unlucky, weeks.
I don’t think I have to stress that anxiety doesn’t team up well with motivation, exercise and performance.
I find it incredibly difficult to go to the gym and perform well in any strength session. My concentration is way off and strength plummets. This causes demotivation and further anxiety because you are not able to perform as usual.
Also, compound exercises become incredibly difficult, not only due to the weight you are carrying, but also because they require focus on breathing and proper form. If you are anxious and tired, this will just not go well.
I have found that it’s a lot better to go out and do cardio session in form of running, which requires less focus and it helps to clear the head. You might not have the energy to run far, but that’s OK. The most important thing is to clear your mind and still work on your fitness goal.
My fitness goal, however, is not running, I am not interested in losing weight and my VO2Max is excellent. But it’s either that, or lie on my sofa all day, complaining about how tired I am.
Don’t be scared of running outside in winter. I have briefly covered this topic in one of my other posts about being fit in January lockdown, so feel free to check it out.
HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM TINNITUS
The British Tinnitus Association revealed in 2019 that the estimated amount of people in the UK living with tinnitus is at least 13% of the population.
From the information provided by Office for National Statistics, there are currently approximately 7.1 million people aged 17 – 99 in the UK suffering from tinnitus. This number is expected to rise to 7.7 million by 2028.
It’s a very difficult condition to keep track of because it’s subjective and impossible to measure.
Tinnitus is not just a condition for an aging population. A study from Statistics Canada showed that 80% of people aged 19 – 29 use masking apps to deal with tinnitus.
It’s very common in older people as a result of the body simply getting old. However, it’s becoming more and more common for young people to report this conditions to their GPs.
Over 1 million people in the UK mention tinnitus to their GPs a year. It is estimated to cost NHS around £750 million to try to treat a condition that nobody knows how to measure.
Increase in tinnitus can potentially lead to further GP appointments regarding:
- emotional stress
- concentration issues
If the numbers of people suffering from tinnitus increase as predicted, it’s possible that conditions like these will be even more common and we are potentially looking at a very miserable population.
Tinnitus is a difficult condition to live with.
They say it gets better over the years because you simply get used to it.
This is not the case for everyone, not that I want to scare my readers, but it’s important to take this as a condition that, due to its subjectivity, is incredibly dangerous.
You might know someone who suffers from mood swings or anxiety and you might think that they are just too sensitive.
There might be a lot more going on in the background than you think, so please be considerate to people’s feelings. Just because you can’t hear the tinnitus doesn’t mean that this person can’t currently hear a plane taking off.
And you, who suffer from it? Don’t be scared and talk about it. Some people might not believe you, but if you say nothing, you will just be perceived as emotionally unstable. It’s important for people to know about this condition and take it seriously.
I have lived with it since 2012 and managed to stay considerably sane with only a few episodes of anxiety and insomnia. This is possible because I do talk about tinnitus and I try to explain what is it like. So far, I have met with great support from friends and family and I couldn’t have done it without them.
If you can relate, or even if you can’t, please feel free to leave a comment below.