Tinnitus suddenly got worse!

Hi, I’m new to this so I’m not really sure how to start.

Ive had tinnitus (barely) since I was about 15 (not sure what caused it) but after a few months it settled down and I was completely able to shut it off as it actually got better. I’ve always had problems with my jaw and recently my jaw has been cracking and crackling non stop for about 4 weeks and my tinnitus is now blaring (I’m 23 now) I’m not sure if it’s noise induced or if it’s to do with my jaw but whenever I open my jaw extremely wide the ringing gets worse! I don’t listen to music loud anymore and I rarely go to nightclubs and never go to concerts anymore. I’m honestly at my wits end now and al doctors keep doing is prescribing me anti anxiety medications which are otoxic and I refuse to take them in case of making it worse! I can’t eat I can’t sleep I feel like a zombie. Someone please help me and tell me what I can do to help myself out. I can completely understand why people think about harming themselves with this horrible thing! Thanks in advance. 

  • Hi Amanda95 

    Thank you for your post and welcome to the forum. My name is Jess and I work on the Information Line for Action on Hearing Loss. I'm sure some of our other forum members will post shortly to offer you their advice and share their experiences but I hope some of the information below is also helpful. 

    We are sorry to read about how you are feeling and although we appreciate how difficult it is, it is important to try and not let stress take over. There is a big link between stress and tinnitus and it can cause a bit of a vicious cycle where your tinnitus will worsen because you are feeling more stressed thereby causing your tinnitus to worsen again. Are there any hobbies or activities that you enjoy that act as good distraction techniques for you? Many people will use distraction as a way of focusing their attention away from the tinnitus which for a lot of people appears to make it less intense. 

    Some people may also look to sound therapy- using music or different noises to focus on. They do not amplify these noises to drown out the tinnitus, as we do not want you to cause any possible damage to your cochlear hairs but rather to try and make your brain focus on something different that is at a lower level. 

    With regards to your jaw and the tinnitus getting worse there are other possibilities such as TMJ (temporomandibular jaw) which is the muscles or the hinge of the jaw being out of alignment, which may also cause some of the symptoms you describe. 

    In order to know what is causing the issues you describe you will need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. You will need a referral from your GP for this. They will then look at your ears and do some tests and hopefully should be able to give you an idea what is causing it. If it is TMJ they may then refer you on to a dentist to see what has caused those muscles to be out of alignment.

    It is not uncommon unfortunately, for Drs to prescribe anti depressants for tinnitus but some Ototoxic drugs do have tinnitus as a side effect so this would not usually be advised. CBT and TRT is available through the NHS therefore we would encourage you to request this via your GP so this may be something you may want to discuss with your GP for them to arrange. 

    CBT helps you to examine your thought patterns, beliefs and the way you do things, in order to understand why you react in certain ways. Therapy may be provided one-to-one or in a group session. Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists are most likely to offer CBT.

    What you think about your tinnitus affects how you feel about it. It may be that the more attention you pay to your tinnitus, the worse you feel. Although not designed as a specific tinnitus treatment, CBT can be very helpful:

     it can teach you coping techniques to deal with negative feelings and distress, so your thoughts and feelings can become more positive

    • by changing how you think about tinnitus and what you do about it, your distress is reduced – you start to tolerate the noises and they eventually become less noticeable.

    You are usually asked to keep a diary of the times that your tinnitus is most annoying or distressing, making a note of the nature of the distress and any thoughts that go with it. For example, you might write: ‘Tonight I feel upset and scared about the cause of my tinnitus. I worry about my health.’ Your therapist will help you look at the reasons behind your strong reactions to tinnitus; they will discuss your thoughts with you and suggest different ways of doing things. You will be encouraged, and given help, to challenge your ways of thinking and find the best way of approaching your tinnitus. 

    TRT combines medical counselling and low-level sound therapy. It doesn’t work directly on your tinnitus, but on your awareness and understanding of it. In time, as your awareness of your tinnitus is reduced, you’ll only notice it when you focus on it.

    You can read further information about tinnitus causes and therapies via our publications here

    Please feel free to contact us directly if you would like to speak further, you can email tinnitus.helpline@hearingloss.org.uk or call 0808 808 6666. 

    Best wishes

    Jess