Tinnitus, And Why Is It On A Fitness Site?

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’s it like. Trust me. I’ve 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’s 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’s a British Tinnitus Association, NHS has a tinnitus dedicated page on their website, and there’s even a Tinnitus Clinic in London, nobody holds clues as to why thousands more individuals develop this condition every year.

WHERE DOES TINNITUS COME FROM?

egyptian gold death mask

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’s 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 himself/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.

a man with messy hair holding his head

That’s why I 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 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.

a man trying to measure a board

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’s 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:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • 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.

CONCLUSION

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 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, it doesn’t mean that this person isn’t currently hearing a plane taking off.

And yo, 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’s 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.



14 thoughts on “Tinnitus, And Why Is It On A Fitness Site?”

  • So brave of you to fight yourself against tinnitus for 9 years yet you have continued and excelled your fitness journey! Bravo … Thank you for coming out with such blog, it means a lot to the people who are battling against tinnitus and other mental illnesses. The world needs to discuss about this and understand each other so people can help each other to come out of it. More power to you!

    • Thank you so much for such an empowering message!

      It’s been tough, true. But challenges make us stronger 🙂

  • Hi, I really feel for you regarding Tinnitus, I have been a sufferer of this for many years as well. I was interested in your mention of two types of tinnitus. “Objective” and “False”. I have never heard of them. My doctor never said to me there were two types, she spoke as if there was only one. I loved reading it and I have learned something today.

    • Yes, you are right. It’s never mentioned. I believe it’s due to the fact that the real one is extremely rare, or perhaps doctors just send you home with tinnitus without actually bothering to dig in a little deeper 🙁

  • Great article about a very important topic.
    I personally don’t suffer from tinnitus but our son-in-law does.
    He has been struggling with this for years and of course, it doesn’t help that he is a technician in the Canadian Air Force.
    Yes, he fixes helicopters for a living so is around a LOT of noise every day.
    There have been great advances in recent years in the treatment of tinnitus.
    Our son-in-law just started wearing a device that looks very similar to my husband’s hearing aids but instead of amplifying sound, it reduces the background noise so Jeff is better able to follow a normal conversation.
    He said it surprised him how well it mutes the noise in his head so he can focus on what he needs to focus on.
    Have you heard of such a treatment in the UK?

    • Hello Deb.

      Lovely of you to stop by again.

      I have heard about this device right at the beginning when I first developed tinnitus.

      However, I’ve decided not to follow up on this because it was only available through tinnitus clinic in London and I have had really bad experience with them.

      To be precise, they basically charged me £200 for an appointment that lasted 10 minutes and told me to download an app to mask the sound. Duh? As if that advice was worth £200.

      Maybe I should try and explore this option again, perhaps things changed since 2012 🙂

        • I will definitely keep it in mind. It’s not cheap here in the UK. As far as I know, it’s a private care and, therefore means a higher price tag, which is not ideal right now 🙁

  • I was very interested in this post as I have had tinnitus now since 1999. Its a constant ringing in my left ear. Funny thing is it does not bother me at all. I know that it does bother some people and I can understand why I guess. My doctor told me it causes some serious issues with some people. Glad I am not one of them. I have a buddy who has it and it does bother him. He actually has found some sort of apparatus to make the ringing not as bad.

    • You are so lucky it doesn’t bother you 🙂

      A lot of people develop another condition with tinnitus which is called Hyperacusis. It’s a sensitivity to a sound in general, which is exactly what happened to me. There will be another post about this because this issue can fill pages.

      I am very happy for you and keep up!

      I have heard about this device, but had a bad experience with the institution that issues it here in London, so I’ve lost faith. But I am thinking about giving it another chance.

  • Hi Silvie,

    Nice article and many thanks to share out some real life issue which are sometimes tabboo or which people are shy to speak of.
    You are very courageous for fighting this for 9 years and at the same time pursue your life goals.

    I am sure there are many people suffering from this health condition and who want do to fitness, you article will be very helpful to them.

    Continue the great work

    Cheers!:)

    • Thank you so much, it’s a very troubling condition, especially because you never know when is it going to get worse. You just end up being anxious most of your days.

      But, eventually, you find out there is no point to be stressed. I was very worried at the beginning because I was scared to lose my hearing. Obviously, that hasn’t happened in the past 9 years and my hearing is still fine, so I’m calm about that now.

      Thank you for your supportive words.

  • Hi, like others who have commented I would like to congratulate you on opening up about your condition with tinnitus. I have some family members and close friends who have suffered from this condition and it was causing a great deal of distress. A friend of mine went into early retirement as work was no longer an option especially as she was an audio engineer. I think it is highly likely that many people suffer in silence and it is only when the condition becomes truly unbearable that they open up. I have occasionally had this as a mild condition. Right now it is very quiet. I only hear a distant traffic noise outside and as this is the middle of the day and all the windows are closed there is only very faint birdsong but I am aware of a high-pitched ringing in my ears. Fortunately, it is not so loud that it drowns out the other sounds and it is only when I pay attention that I really hear it. I have had this for so many years I couldn’t even tell you when it dates from. I consider this to be a condition that is sort of hovering there under the radar most of the time. As for the cause, it seems very probable to me that this is a consequence of modern civilization and urban and mechanized life. After all, from an evolutionary perspective, we are still pretty much the same as early homo sapiens who lived in hunter-gatherer groups. Let’s face it you wouldn’t need ear mufflers to go out hunting deer and rabbits and gathering berries and nuts but you do need them to walk onto just about any factory floor.

    • Hi Andy!

      I completely agree with the fact that tinnitus is most likely a modern civilisation condition – the noise is everywhere! And not just noise, different waves too.

      I have never been a person who would spend a lot of time in clubs or loud places, that’s why I was so surprised to develop this. For me, the reason for this condition is a lot more that loud sound. It must be buried very deep.

      Thank you for your comment x

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