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Music and hearing difficulties

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(@capriccio)
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I know we've mentioned in another forum that a couple of us are dealing with hearing issues. I thought I'd start a topic for it; a place where we can share suggestions that might help when faced with a hearing decline: things like treatments, hearing aids, headphones, music that's easier to appreciate when you lose the ability to hear lower or higher frequencies clearly, and so on.

Because we're still a very small community here, this might not have relevance to many people, but it still might be helpful to start sharing some thoughts about this. None of us is getting any younger, after all. Smile And a quick Google turned up this interesting snippet:

Classical musicians are at extreme risk for hearing loss. A Finnish study among classical musicians found that 15 percent of the musicians in the study suffered from permanent tinnitus, in comparison to 2 percent among the general population.

My tinnitus, which made its unwelcome appearance  about 6 weeks ago, got suddenly much worse last week. It's now constant and at times very loud. My ENT doc recommended a course of lipo flavanoid and a short course of a steroid. She said these both prove helpful to "some" people, especially early on. So, I have my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I'm listening to louder music, because with the very quiet stuff, there's too much competition between the tinnitus and the music. And at nights, instead of listening to my usual go-to-sleep playlists, I'm using apps designed for tinnitus relief, including Portal (on iPhone and iPad) and Calmer (by Beltone). Both are helpful.

Another interesting tidbit I found is a study which finds that classical music can help tinnitus sufferers: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23025336/  

However, in this study people listened to Beethoven's Für Elise for 1 hour a day for a month. That would send my blood pressure rocketing so high, tinnitus would be the least of my worries!

 


   
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 Jen
(@jen)
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Oh, I’m very, very sorry to hear that your tinnitus has got worse, Rose.  I do hope the treatment helps to ease it.

My tinnitus is generally quite mild, but it’s intermittent and sometimes disturbing and very frustrating.  My newly acquired hearing aids are not set up specifically to counteract it, but it is a welcome surprise that they are starting to help me not just to understand the tinnitus, but to ease it, too.

It’s been short but interesting journey getting used to the aids.  As expected, they are excellent with speech, in helping me to distinguish between closely related consonants.  There’s also a mode to use in noisy environments which boosts my hearing in a forwards direction whilst suppressing the surroundings, and it’s brilliant.

But listening to music with the aids is proving to be quite a challenge.  I’ve had their ‘music mode’ adjusted a couple of times by the audiologist, so far to no avail. My aids are ‘open’; most of the sound bypasses them, but particular frequencies are boosted.  So, if I’m listening live, or via speakers, the sound mostly appears to be originating from the expected positions in the room.  But when there are sounds in the band of boosted frequencies, these suddenly appear to be originating in the centre of my head… and a moment later they’re back out in the room again! Where are those musicians now??  Is this bizarre phenomenon usual?  I don’t know, but it’s too disorientating and for now I’m (mostly) choosing not to use the aids when listening to music.

It is fascinating to observe, though, that the frequencies the aids boost, where the musicians are leaping in and out of my head, are precisely the same as the band of frequencies where music was becoming screechy and metallic before getting the aids.

And it’s at exactly the same range of frequencies as my tinnitus.

So it appears that both the tinnitus and the screechy flutes and violins may actually be my hearing system attempting to compensate for its losses, to fill in the gaps, but not making very good job of it.

I’m delighted to discover that, although I can’t wear the aids when listening to music, wearing the aids in other circumstances not only helps me hear the conversation at the time, it also settles the tinnitus (and calms the flautists) for several hours afterwards.

In talking to the audiologist, and doing some reading, I’m learning that all of these phenomena are hugely personal.  As you mention, Rose, there seems to be some concensus that listening to music can be helpful with tinnitus, but for me tinnitus is at its loudest when I listen to music. For me, music is a trigger not a solution (even without hours of Für Elise!). And I’m sensing that the phenomenon where aids cause musicians to leap in and out of my head is rather unusual; but it is not at all unusual for there to be a link between hearing loss and tinnitus.

I’m slowly learning and working out my best strategies.  It would indeed be very useful to hear of others’ experiences, even when our hearing problems might be quite different.

Keep us posted, Rose.  I’m rooting for you, wishing that you too can find solutions.


   
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 Jen
(@jen)
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Posted by: @capriccio

None of us is getting any younger, after all. 🙂

I had to laugh.  It seems that my rambling (sorry!) reply has earned me a new title.  Forum Elder.  
😳 😂


   
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 Hugh
(@hugh)
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I'm sorry that you are both having these hearing problems. I'm fortunate in that I only have minor high-frequency hearing loss but I know how difficult it can be.

Have you tried headphones, Jen? I wonder whether, if the sound always comes from the same direction (from the phones), the flutes might jump around less. (My wife doesn't listen to much music but listens a lot through Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones over her hearing aids and finds them very satisfactory. They also help with the tinnitus.)


   
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 Jen
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Posted by: @hugh

…listens a lot through Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones over her hearing aids and finds them very satisfactory. They also help with the tinnitus.

It hadn’t occurred to me to try headphones over the aids!  That’s a very interesting idea, and I’ll have an opportunity to try it out (perhaps even with the same headphones. Bose 700s?) over the next few days…


   
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(@dinah)
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@capriccio and @jen

I'm very sad to hear about your difficulties. I do wish I could offer some advice or help, but alas, I'm no expert, so I would refrain from chiming in with an opinion that might do more harm than good!

@capriccio, I hope you're trying the medications your doctor recommended, and that these will produce the desired results in the near future. Don't lose hope!

 

Posted by: @jen

It seems that my rambling (sorry!) reply has earned me a new title.  Forum Elder.  
😳 😂

WHAT?! NEVER! Please, do feel free to "ramble on"! 😉

One thing I like about all of you guys are your kind spirits and young hearts!

 

Posted by: @hugh

(My wife doesn't listen to much music but listens a lot through Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones over her hearing aids and finds them very satisfactory. They also help with the tinnitus.)

But, @Hugh, is she sure that in the long run these are safe for her, won't make her condition worse or something?! (I was always told, sternly: don't put on your headphones for long times! Give your ears some rest! So you see, I've always associated earphones with hearing problems, even though I only listen to music through earphones, as I live in a block of flats!)

I wish her, and you, all the best.

Guys, now I'm really sad 😔! Can't possibly imagine what you're going through!

 


   
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(@capriccio)
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Topic starter  
Posted by: @jen

I had to laugh.  It seems that my rambling (sorry!) reply has earned me a new title.  Forum Elder.  
😳 😂

Well deserved old girl! Wink  


   
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