That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

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That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:01 am

Oh man, I suffer from Tinnitus. That´s no fun at all, folks. And it´s different from what you
experience every now and then, namely a slight hum or beep after a night out with some
drinks and loud music.

No, I am feeling really ill, and the sound drives me crazy as it won´t vanish.
Here is what triggered it I guess:
After a school concert on e week ago where the kids rock band blasted everything away
I have got that nasty sound, the beep that won´t cease. :(

Been to the doctor´s, I have had several infusions by now (which are supposed to facilitate the blood
circulation), but now I wonder about several things:

a) when the "inner" sound will go away
b) if not stress is the real villain (have had lots of stress lately - well, always, TBH)
- I guess I have to change my lifestyle or something


and most important

c) Will I ever be able to enjoy conga drumming and playing percussion instruments in general? :cry:
Is it harmful to play congas, will it make things worse.

Shit, I don´t wanna stop playing because out of the fear of having stronger tinnitus.

The bloody beep chased me out of sleep, out of bed actually.

Is there any experience out there to share? Some input would be great!

Unhappy Mike
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby windhorse » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:43 pm

It should go away soon. But, it will raise it's ugly head again and again if you continue anything with loud noise. So, your ears don't go back to "normal". They will be much more sensitive to loud noise.. The nastiest side-effect of all.. :evil:
I have to use ear plugs pretty much EVERY time I play now. It does suck.. A lot! I hate wearing something that dampens the sound, whether they are musician's earplugs or not! But, it's necessary, and I'm learning to live them. Like you say, when you have to play, you just have to play,,, so find a way! 8) :roll:
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:45 pm

Thanks, Windhorse,
and yes, I also do think that ear plugs are the answer when it comes to playing.
I have some that are quite good in fact, but unfortunately I forgot them at home that night :evil:
Could kick my ass for it.. :twisted:
Check these out, they´re really good ´cause they don´t dampen the tone so much like other plugs:
http://www.earplugs.de/Cont/Plugs/MusicSafe-III.asp

Otherwise I hope my wailing was not too annoying - its only that you feel crippled... :(
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby CongaTick » Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:40 pm

mike,
wife has pulsatile tinnitus where she hears her pulse ALL THE TIME! it is masked by other sounds during the day, but at night she needs to wear headphone and listen to white noise to mask it sufficiently to go to sleep. this is serious shit. you must wear ear plugs and hope this is only a temporary condition.
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby bongosnotbombs » Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:44 pm

Tinnitus can be a serious condition, please take care of yourself Mike.

I know in some more extreme cases of tinnitus, suffers get psychological
help from doctors to learn how to cope with the constant noise and maintain
their sanity.

I use the earplugs too when it comes to large drums classes and such.
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:36 pm

bongosnotbombs wrote:Tinnitus can be a serious condition, please take care of yourself Mike.

I know in some more extreme cases of tinnitus, suffers get psychological
help from doctors to learn how to cope with the constant noise and maintain
their sanity.


Thanks for your kind words, BnB!

Yes, the chance that this sound might be lasting makes you pensive indeed to verge of depressive feelings.

I see this incident as a starting point to a different lifestyle - less negative stress, more relaxation of sorts. But sometimes it´s easier said than done...

Having read some reports on the Net, I have learned that I must be patient: 6 weeks is supposedly the shortest time to get
rid of tinnitus - if you get rid of it at all. The key seems to be a variety of additional measures like drinking 2-3 litres of water, no alcohol, no pork, osteopathy, massage of reflex zones, plenty of walks in fresh air and the like.

Living and coping with tinnitus is a challenge indeed. Let´s see....
At the moment my mood is gloomy.

but this forum which full of supportive people like you can cheer me up a bit :)
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Congadelica » Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:49 pm

Hi Mike.
I hope your comdition improves bro.
I too have had some bad news of late I have 3 lower intervertiral discs which are degenerated . I saw a specialist who is pushing me into invasive surgery , This is a worry I have read reports and I am not too sure surgery is the way to go .
But your problem can be a bugger to live with , look after your health , as for the stress try to avoid at all costs its not good for anyone . :)

Take care

Marco
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:36 pm

THanks, Marco, for your nice words.

Yes, stress relief is all that we want... Is not easy.

I hope your lower discs can get better without surgery.
My feelings are with you, brother :cry:

Some things in life are simply a pain in the a§$

My mum wrote me a postcard with a quotation by R.W. Emerson: (I translate freely, but maybe wrong)

Follow nature´s pace,
for its secret is patience


All the best and thanks for your support!

Mike
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Thomas Altmann » Sun Nov 16, 2008 3:41 am

Hello Mike.

I think most people have some kind of tinnitus, often without knowing or realizing it. When I really listened carefully, I have heard a ring since I can think. I had to welcome another high tone in the orchestra about three months ago. The reason: stress, lack of sleep. Whenever I had a ringing in my ear that was clearly caused by loud noise, it used to disappear - sometimes one week later. But this one has come to stay. The worst thing is to become afraid because of it. I simply perceive it as "my personal sound" or "the sound of silence" (although this is probably not what Simon and Garfunkel meant). Obviously it also depends on the volume of the tinnitus. Some people even hear chords!

Don't become depressed, look ahead, engage in your work, and open the window at night. The sounds from outside will help you to find sleep.

All the best,

Thomas
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby pavloconga » Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:40 am

Hi Mike,
Sorry to hear you have tinnitus. I have had tinnitus at various times and in varying degrees over the years, most notably after a pretty loud series of workshops quite a few years ago. At the time it really drove me nuts especially at night. These days, my ears seem to be really sensitive to loud noise so I often wear earplugs particularly at (loud) rehearsals with guitarists and bass players continually turning their amps up (!).

For performances where I know it's going to be really loud on stage I wear ordinary foam plugs (which I cut in two so they don't block too much sound) or use custom made musician's plugs. They're transparent and work quite well - they cost about $120.

p.s. You can try ginko biloba, I heard it's good for getting the circulation in the ears going. Also omega 3 fish oils.

p.p.s One of the things that can be used to mask tinnitus is a 'white noise' generator.

cheers, hope it improves soon..
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:01 am

@ Thomas & pavloconga
Thanks and yes, the nights are particularly hard. I try not to concentrate too much on the sound, as you say,
because it is "just" the "inner voice" that tells me I should better sleep. Difficult though

Funny dream I dreamt last night: I founded an "orchestra" of 50 timbaleros and formed two groups
which I conducted in a prairie... Crazy dream, but that certainly gave the tinnitus no choice to be heard at all :lol:
The positive side of this dream was that I woke up with a smile...

pavloconga wrote:p.s. You can try ginko biloba, I heard it's good for getting the circulation in the ears going. Also omega 3 fish oils.

I have also read about gingko on the Net. That is certainly a good idea, I think you can´t go wrong with it at all,
I even read of a guy who got rid of the tinnitus completely.
On the other hand my infusion therapy isn´t finished yet. As my case was triggered by acute noise, I still hope to get better by stronger plasma infusions I will receive at the hospital next week. I´ll keep you posted about the result.

So far, God bless
&thanks again for your support everybody

-Mike
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby yambu321 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:00 pm

WOW MIKE,
SORRY YOU'RE HAVING TO DEAL WITH THAT PROBLEM. AT VARIOUS TIMES IN THE PAST AFTER JAMMIN AT A RUMBA, OR BEING AT A CLUB, AND AT TIMES EVEN OUT OF THE BLUE, I WOULD GET SOME RINGING FOR SHORT PERIODS OF TIME. AND TWICE I HAD THE PULSE SOUNDS AS WELL, ("WARNING SIGNS" ) I GUESS, SO I'LL BE EXTRA CAREFUL FOR NOW ON. MY BROTHER, I KNOW THAT PLAYING IS IN YOUR BLOOD. SO YOU MUST REST, PACE YOURSELF ALWAYS, NO NEED TO RACE ABOUT ANYTHING. THINGS ALWAYS GET DONE NO MATTER WHAT. NICE SCENIC WALKS ARE GREAT, AND WILL SURELY HELP WITH YOUR THOUGHT PROCESSES. I SOME HOW FEEL MIKE, THAT YOU'LL FEEL FINE SOON. BUT, YOU MUST BE VERY CAREFUL THERE AFTER. FROM THE HEART BRO, I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST, FOR YOU MUST LIVE WELL, AND CONTINUE TO PLAY.

CHARLIE.
Last edited by yambu321 on Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Keep It Real, Keep It Honest, and Alway's Be True To Yourself. Laugh and Smile When Ever You Can, and Help others do the Same; It's a Good Thing!
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby Mike » Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:36 pm

Charlie, my friend and brother in conga y bongó,

I take your words very seriously. You hit the nail right on the head.
Life for me is about playing some music!
And, just coming back from an autumnal walk with my dear wife,
I feel that only peace, nature and INNER harmony can gradually help
me overcome this crisis I am stuck in.
BTW the doctors found out that the sound inside me has 55dB
- still one week after the "event"!

Thanks, bro, I know when words come from the heart. Seriously.

Take care of yourself too, rumbero!

Mike
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby jorge » Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:43 pm

Tinnitus is often a warning sign that your are exposed to too much loud sound, for too long. It can be a symptom of other more serious medical conditions or even overuse of aspirin and some other medications, but is usually related to loud sounds. Assuming it is related to loud sounds, here is some information about tinnitus. I have to mention a disclaimer that if the ringing in your ears does not obviously seem to be a result of exposure to loud sound, you should see your doctor and make sure there is no other cause.

Loud sounds, whether noise or music, can cause temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, and permanent sound-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus (pronounced TIN it us) is the medical term for ringing in your ears. Percussive sounds like drum hits, gunshots, cowbell and clave hits, cymbals, etc are more likely than steady tones to cause hearing loss and tinnitus. The temporary hearing loss can last a few hours to a few days after the loud sound exposure, and can be accompanied by very noticeable ringing in your ears. At first, you will recover your hearing completely after a loud night, it may take until the next day, or a few days, but your hearing will return completely and the tinnitus will go away completely. With repeated exposure to loud sounds, the recovery takes longer and is less complete. There is a lot of individual variability in how much sound is required, how long recovery takes, and how complete is the recovery. Many of us in the music business have developed permanent hearing loss and tinnitus over the years. DJing is particularly common to cause this (and half-deaf DJs often assault the audience's hearing because they can't hear that the music is too loud, but that is another discussion).

Playing percussion can cause temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, as well as permanent sound-induced hearing loss. It is all about volume and how long you are exposed to the sound. There is a lot of variability among different people regarding how loud and long the sound has to be to cause these problems. Some people will get tinnitus and permanent hearing loss from the same loudness and duration of sound that will not affect another person at all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation (OSHA, no relation to regla de ocha) noise standard says that sounds less than 85 dB are safe to hear all day, but the louder the sound, the shorter the time you can safely be exposed to it. A useful table of loudness (in A-weighted decibels) and permissible safe length of exposure is on the OSHA website, OSHA regulation 1910.95, Appendix A, found here:

http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp ... &p_id=9736

High pitch, percussive sounds are the most likely to affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. Obviously, amplified instruments and vocals can do this too, especially when monitors are placed too close to musicians' ears. Even without amplification, some percussion sounds can do this, like most claves, some guaguas, open slaps on congas, drum set especially cymbals, timbales, even bongo slaps. When you are playing loud to be heard over a band, both the loud band and the loud percussion contribute to the sound level. Keeping stage volume down by skillful use of mics and monitors in addition to the Front of House speakers helps a lot with reducing exposure of musicians to loud sound, plus it usually improves the overall sound of the group in most performance venues. In-ear monitors, when done right, can greatly reduce the ambient noise levels and help a lot. When done wrong, they can pump too-loud sound directly into your ears and do more damage faster than floor and stage monitors and direct sound. Also I don't know a good way to measure loudness in the ear when using in-ear monitors.

Some of the best rumberos from Cuba that I have heard play soft enough that all the singers can be heard clearly without mics over the congas or cajones. Check out this clip on YouTube, these are some of the best rumberos (mostly) still alive in Cuba.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_OoShNfilk

The quinto slaps are soft but so clean and well timed that they are always heard clearly. That is really hard to learn but worth it. The congas are not fancy or high end, it is really about technique and listening carefully. The timing and clean percussion sound and style make loud banging unnecessary. In fairness, some of these guys can sing pretty loud without a mic, but the point is that you can get down on congas and really enjoy it without playing loud. Even with mics in stage performances, they still keep their stage volume pretty well under control. There is wisdom among these older rumberos who have made it to 70 or 80 years old y que estan todavia guarachando. There is a lot we can learn from the elders and the centuries-old traditions, and playing soft enough to preserve your hearing (and your hands) until a ripe old age is one of the most valuable lessons.

Here are my recommendations to prevent worsening of tinnitus and hearing loss:

1) Play softer! In a rumba, if you can't hear the lead singers and coro clearly when they sing without microphones, everyone is playing too loud. If you have ringing in your ears after the rumba, everyone was playing too loud.

2) If you are around loud sounds, whether acoustic or amplified, get a Sound Pressure Level meter and use it, along with the OSHA loudness table in the link above, to find safe loudness levels, then stick to those levels. Radio Shack makes a pretty accurate SPL meter for $50. From the perspective of enjoying your music for the rest of your life, that could be the best $50 you ever spend on sound equipment (or medical care), IF you use the meter to help control your exposure to loud sounds.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... Id=2103667

3) If you are playing hard, struggling to be heard over ampified instruments or drumset, use mics and play softer. Make sure the monitors are not too loud or too close to anyone's ears and tell the other musicians to turn down if they are playing too loud.

4) Play claves softer or get lower pitched claves. I have tried to find claves that don't hurt my ears, but most do if played loud. The key is to play the claves softer and keep the overall sound level down.

5) If none of this works, get in-ear hearing protectors. They take some getting used to, and do take some of the "fun" out of playing at first, but they will help preserve your hearing so you can enjoy playing for many more years.
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Re: That nasty sound: Tinnitus!

Postby windhorse » Sun Nov 16, 2008 5:19 pm

Jorge, good stuff! If I had followed all of your recommendations from the beginning, then I probably wouldn't have to use earplugs now.
Great video example of quiet and effective playing! :P
As a beginner I always tried to get as much sound out of the instruments as possible - without hurting myself. People kept yelling at me to bring up my sound, that they couldn't hear me. At least I knew not to destroy my hands in the process. But, my ears couldn't take it after a few years. Mind you, never with "banging"!
I think they already had a propensity to become damaged from lots of rock and roll in several bands as a youth, and a few diving accidents involving the banging of the eardrums.
So, they're super sensitive, and even low levels from a regular rumba are now too much.. I've had a few people tell me that my clave and bell are too loud for them, and I find that interesting since my ears are, hands down, the most sensitive in the crowd. If I took the earplugs out, then I could hardly play them, and everyone would be yelling at me, "what happened to the clave?"
Singing is the wierdest thing, and that presents a new set of problems because my own voice resonates more in my ears when plugs are in, and it drowns out the other instruments.. That presents the challenge of staying up with the timing and in key. Perhaps I'm singing too loud? How can I tell?
You have to learn a whole new set of parameters for listening when you play with earplugs..
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