Can you imagine anything more annoying than hearing a mosquito buzzing around your head and not being able to catch it? A dentist’s drill might be a close match. Now imagine what it would be like to have crickets chirping in your ear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Experts estimate that more than 30 million Americans hear a constant noise in their ears. Roughly one in eight men between the ages of 65 and 74 experiences some form of tinnitus (pronounced TIN-a-tus or tin-EYE-tus). Women and children are not spared the unwanted sound effects, which some describe as hissing, humming, chirping, whooshing, whistling, squeaking, or roaring.
Many tinnitus sufferers hear a high-pitched ringing, while others say it sounds more like steam escaping. Others complain of radio static or an electronic whine inside their head. One person described it this way: “I have an ocean between my ears every day, 24-7.” Whatever the sound, it never lets up–but nobody else can hear it, either.
“My husband has a constant buzz in his ears and also hears a sound he likens to a dishwasher running. This particular sound bothers him most when he goes to bed or wakes up at night, and it wakes him frequently. The doctor says lots of people have tinnitus and the problem isn’t serious, but it has my husband on the ropes.”
According to the medical establishment, “Many patients with tinnitus believe that they have a serious medical problem. This is rarely the case.” We beg to differ. People with tinnitus look normal, but the affliction can be as crippling as arthritis. Some individuals are so distressed by the sounds they hear that they become severely depressed and contemplate suicide. A study has found that even moderate tinnitus can interfere with cognitive ability, making it harder to focus and achieve peak performance while working on demanding tasks.
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, including very loud noises. More than 15 years ago, Joe was preparing to cohost a radio show when a student engineer made an error and created a feedback loop through Joe’s headphones (the kind of screech you sometimes hear through speakers in an auditorium). The sound was so loud and so close to his ears that from that day to this, Joe has heard a ringing and hissing sound. Some days the noise is so overpowering that it is hard for him to concentrate. For people who cannot imagine what you are going through, it is difficult to describe how disconcerting it is to have a fieldful of crickets inside your head all the time.
We fear that millions of teenagers and young adults may be setting themselves up for tinnitus and other forms of hearing loss by exposing themselves to high volume levels while listening to iPods and other music devices. There are so many loud noises in our environment that the cumulative effect can damage our ears and increase our risk of tinnitus. We’re talking about everyday things in our lives like blenders, vacuum cleaners, motorcycles, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers. All of them are loud and can contribute to hearing problems.
Compared to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, tinnitus seems like a trivial complaint. But ask anyone who suffers from it and you will discover that it can have devastating consequences on the person’s quality of life. The constant ringing or hissing not only affects concentration, it also can interfere with sleep. Many people with tinnitus are depressed, and some even contemplate suicide. There is no cure and no perfect treatment. Nevertheless, there are some options worth considering.

  • Avoid loud noise, including common household appliances like blenders, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, and power tools. Concerts, sporting events, and airports call for ear protection. Noise can make tinnitus worse.
  • Beware of prescription medicines and over-the-counter remedies that can trigger tinnitus or make it worse. Even the quinine in tonic water can be a problem for some people.
  • Some people benefit from antianxiety agents like alprazolam (Xanax) or antidepressants such as nortriptyline. These drugs are not without side effects, however.
  • Seek professional advice about new technology that combines a hearing aid with a masking device. This equipment may help improve hearing and reduce the ringing. Try to negotiate for a trial period to test the hearing aid so you can make sure you are satisfied before shelling out thousands of dollars to purchase it.
  • Give ginkgo biloba a try. Although the research is not very supportive, ginkgo may help and it is relatively inexpensive. Make sure that it won’t interact with any other medicine you are taking.
  • Consider melatonin. This natural compound appears to be quite safe and may help tinnitus sufferers get some much-needed sleep.
  • If all else fails, your physician might prescribe misoprostol. A few small studies have found it useful for about one-third to two-thirds of tinnitus patients. Its price and side effects are daunting, however.

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  1. RW
    Reply

    I have had Tinnitus for several years being the sound of crickets in the night but recently while taking antibiotics for a ear infection the noise has included what sounds like a baby crying, chanting, moaning and some melody that is repetitive and all at the same time.
    I pray at night to have peace but in the morning it all begins and the volume gradually increases throughout the day. It is hard to ignore but I find that rest and release of stress and no caffeine does help though it is difficult to live daily without some of these at one time or another. Anyone else experience anything like this?

  2. c looper
    Reply

    I did and it’s $25 at Wal-Mart. Stopped the noise for about 4 hours nd now it’s worse. Stopped talking it, can’t imagine going 60 days like they suggest.

  3. JJ
    Reply

    There is a new Tinnitus Center Specific now in London England.

  4. LF
    Reply

    Sometimes a punctured ear drum can cause the ringing.

  5. AS
    Reply

    “I would almost rather be deaf in this ear than deal with this ringing all the time”
    Cheryl, I have complete hearing loss in my left ear. In it’s place came the crickets. Sorry to say even being deaf doesn’t help this situation.

  6. LF
    Reply

    I have tinnitus. I read that it is a problem that is actually a neurological problem that originates not in the ear, but in the brain, involving miscommunication between damaged sensory cells — called hair cells, which line the cochlea, and the brain. People with severe tinnitus typically hear noise that doesn’t exist except to them, much like an amputee perceives phantom pain from a missing limb. This why it cannot be cured.

  7. hema
    Reply

    I m 18 years old and last night I found that my right ear only is ringing. It was like a sound of flowing of a fluid. I’m having constant slight ache. My hearing ability is also little less from past year due to my habit of hearing music all the time but I have dropped that habit since last year. pls tell me could it be tinnitus? Also my left ear is totally unaffected. pls answer
    People’s Pharmacy response: It could be tinnitus, but you should see a doctor who can check your hearing and see whether there is infection or some other problem. Tinnitus does not cause earache.

  8. hema
    Reply

    I am 18 years old and last night I found that my right ear only is ringing. It was like a sound of flowing of a fluid. I m having constant slight ache. My hearing ability is also little less from past year due to my habit of hearing music all the time but I have dropped that habit since last year. Please tell me could it be tinniasis? Also my left ear is totally unaffected. Please answer.

  9. Karen
    Reply

    A walk-in clinic doctor prescribed Clarithrmycin, Ampiciliin and Lanzoprazole for my H Pylori infection. I had to stop after 4 days because I was getting sick. A few months later, another walk-in clinic doctor prescribed Avelox, Nexium and Ampicllin. Soon after taking it, I started hearing singing, chanting and wailing.
    I googled and learned that Avelox can cause a psychotic reaction in some people. Although I stopped taking Avelox on May 8, 2014, I continued to hear the singing, chanting and wailing. Obviously, this is causing so much distress in my life. To get rid of the noise in my head, I was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed Risperidone 0.5 mg. However, I developed some side effects and had to stop taking it after two days. I went back to the walk-in clinic and the Dr. prescribed Olanzapine 2.5 mg, the same doctor that had prescribed Avelox. The pharmacist told me that Olazapine is a different drug from Risperidone, but belong in the same family.
    He printed out the medical information for me to read, and also advised me to find another doctor. Eventually, the Dr. changed the Olanzapine 2.5 mg to Ativcan. I was hoping for 0.5 mg, but she prescribed 1 mg which I now cut it up to two and use 1 before sleep time. I was also diagnosed with hypothroidits and was prescribed Synthroid 0.5 mcg by a very nice and professional doctor, but the walk in clinic Dr. told me to stop taking it as she thinks that I should wait until I see the endocrinologist. What I am saying is that medicines can cause auditory hallucinations, and I am concerned that the walk in Dr. is doing more harm than good for me.

  10. barbara
    Reply

    It is wise to confront the doctor if problem persists to see a Specialist so as to find the cause and eliminate any other medical problem that can cause the Tinnitus for they can be a few medical problems that can cause this and one needs to know rather than to self Diagnose. Better safe than sorry. I also suffer from this as I hear my heartbeat loud in my ears pretty frightening I suffer from Sinus problems, cervical problems of my neck, Vertigo, Stress, and quite a lot of pain due to my med problems. Mine persisted for nearly a year my doctor as given me nothing for this But i will go back next time and persist to see a specialist as it is my right and yours. 68 years old Barbara

  11. MK
    Reply

    My husband and young daughter both suffer from what seems to be pretty severe cases of tinnitus which is affecting their ability to sleep. I feel if they could sleep better, it may help alleviate some of the symptoms, but they are caught in a vicious circle. I have read online that magnesium supplements can help reduce the symptoms. Does anyone have any experience with this?

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