It’s always inspiring to hear from people who’ve successfully navigated chronic pain. This is especially true of a condition like tinnitus, which too many patients are told “there’s nothing you can do.”
In today’s article, we share insights from a discussion between Dr. Ben Thompson, Treble Health founder, and Randy, patient who overcame bothersome tinnitus. While this former fighter pilot has only been with Treble for a few months, Randy already has a lot to say about the strategies that have supported his treatment.
Randy’s Struggle With Tinnitus
For the past 15 years ago, Randy noticed a mild steady ringing sound in both ears. It had always been a background noise, and he only heard it in quiet places, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2022 – March 13th, to be exact – that the sound was loud enough to really catch his attention.
“That night, I laid down. In no less than 30 seconds, I was back up on my feet. It was ringing to the point that I just couldn’t even lay down, and I couldn’t stay still. I was up all night that night.” He went on to describe the sense of panic that then set in. “I was worried about losing my mind because I knew it was incurable.”
This onset of severe tinnitus caused a range of related issues, including poor sleep. “I was getting probably three, 30-minute catnaps at night. That was it.”
There had been some signs prior to these early episodes that his hearing was worsening and needed to be checked. It was especially noticeable during COVID-19, when he found himself unable to read lips due to the use of face-covering masks. Randy hadn’t realized just how dependent he’d become on visual support to fill gaps in auditory understanding.
It was at this point that Randy began working with Treble, who connected him with an audiologist to help him see the relationship between hearing loss and tinnitus. Randy’s audiologist also verified that there were no underlying concerns – no neck and jaw pain, no co-occurring conditions or viruses, and no medications with tinnitus side effects. Randy’s tinnitus was at least partially caused by hearing loss. With this clarity – and a treatment plan – Randy’s audiologist gave him both hope and support.
“My first doctor didn’t think [my tinnitus] was real. He didn’t understand.” In fact, his original clinician simply prescribed medication for sleep. “When I talked to [a Treble] doctor, I immediately felt better just knowing that I wasn’t making something up. It was real.”
From there, he discovered two key interventions: therapy and hearing aids. Both have changed his life.
“The very first step was sound therapy. That’s the first time I’d ever heard of that. I listened to some Treble sound therapy videos, and hit on one that was kind of like, oh my goodness, that actually feels good. That night, I slept with headphones, and it was better than anything I’d experienced for the previous two weeks.” Notably, this was coming from a man accustomed to sleeping with a sound machine. For Randy, it was all about learning how to adjust to the right sound and environment.
“While it’s true there’s no cure for tinnitus, there’s therapy for it, and the therapy is a real help.”
He’s also now using hearing aids that provide the best sound therapy for his tinnitus.
He says that when his tinnitus is at an eight out of ten, he can put on the hearing aids and it immediately becomes a five out of ten. Hearing aids are, in fact, the principle aspect of his sound therapy. “l have different sound therapy programs going pretty much all day long, and I don’t notice it.”
Following the sound therapy was the one-on-one coaching with a Treble audiologist. He notes, “Cognitive behavioral techniques have helped me reframe some of the negative thinking… I know if I need relief, I can get that. I didn’t know if that would ever be possible again.”
Randy now has the self-care practices to let his “whole body calm down… it’s a full body experience.” He says, “You know, it’s not just your ears, it’s your mind. And then that kind of plays into everything… Therapy would be my number one advice for somebody.”
Other advice? Comfort of the hearing aids is everything. As critical as the sound therapy provided by hearing aids, it’s just as critical to make sure they are designed for your needs and your ears. And make sure to take advantage of the added benefit of Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility.
Randy is now doing so well that he is looking at getting back to flying airplanes again. Fortunately, he’s now gained some tools to tame tinnitus.
“My advice to anyone with tinnitus is to get with Treble Health. It’s inexpensive, and it’s super helpful. I’m continuing to make improvements every day. I feel like Treble literally gave me my life back.”