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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been through the tinnitus threads, and gleaned a lot of info. What I'm looking for is some experienced opinion to aid in my making a decision. I'm a 47 year old late bloomer who has been playing mainly alto sax for three years now. I play in my house strictly for my own enjoyment-I never play with anyone else. A year ago, I developed tinnitus in my left ear after two longer than usual practice sessions, and it never went away. I've been to the doctors, had the MRI, and they basically said "nobody knows much of anything certain about tinnitus." At first, both the audiologist and the doctor both said to keep up the sax as a relaxing hobby, but then the doctor said the noise level of a single horn "might" be loud enough to aggravate it. When I mentioned the vibrations from the mouthpiece through the upper teeth and skull, he said that might aggravate the tinnitus as well, but there wasn't any way of knowing for sure. I've tried the ER-20 earplugs, but they don't affect the vibrations. Plus when you play only for your own enjoyment, why bother if you have to mute the sound? If I keep playing, will the tinnitus get so bad in a few years that I will regret it? Opinions?
 

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I think that if you are enjoying playing, the tinnitus isn't getting worse, and your own physician can't find any reason NOT to.... Keep playing!
There are a few over the counter medications out there that claim relieve the symptoms of tinnitus. You could give those a try if your doc says it's ok.
If you don't already have a patch on your mouthpiece, you could try that as well to see if it helps lessen the vibrations in your teeth and skull.
 

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As for dealing with the tinnitus, plain old static helps. So does the sound of moving air. I live right by a busy street so I need masking noise to sleep on a lot of nights, but it also helps with tinnitus (though I long ago learned to sleep through that).

The fan doesn't have to be pointed anywhere near you to do the job, just within earshot. Medium and low speeds work best, as it is more air noise and less motor whine.
 

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I have severe tinnitus in both ears. Not much can be done about it. It is true that a mpc does transfer thru the bone and has an effect. The old "fan" or "white noise" can help with mild cases. I am now going to doc that specialises in pain management. She will be teaching me some "self hypnosis" techniques to help ignore the ringing. I have tried several otc, chiropratic and acupuncture sessions no no positive results. I wouldn't give up my 33 yrs of pro playing but sure would have avoided the combat noise. The hardest part is conversations in a loud or crowded setting. I also have greatly cut back on gigs. Acoustic only. I wish you well with your ears and your horn.


K
43 yrs of sax and going strong
 

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My ears ring constantly. I've learned to ignore it. It doesn't affect my hearing in the least. I haven't thought about it in months until you mentioned it. Now they're ringing like crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I appreciate ya'll's answers. I have been taking the lipo-flavinoid pill for about two months and the ringing (cricket) sound has lessened. Strangely, this ringing has never ever affected my sleep. It changes volume and pitch, but even on it's loudest days, I go right to sleep like it isn't there. The root cause was probably the shooting I did in my twenties without ear protection. Don't know. If I could know that playing wouldn't make it worse, there would be no question. But if playing will make it worse over the next few years, that gives me pause. But God, I love the sax. Just seeing a horn makes me feel like all is right with the world. God I love this instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is an interesting site-I will examine that further. I have been struck by the variations of my tinnitus in volume and pitch, when, if it was purely caused by loud noise damage, I would think it would be a little more uniform. Something else I was surprised to learn was that a relatively quiet environment still registers 30 to 40 decibels. There's a lot of sound going on which doesn't normally register with our brains. I don't know. If it stays like it is now, it will be tolerable. I just don't want it to increase to the point that I might actually be disabled.
 

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I've had tinnitus for about ten years. I just live with it.
 

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In addition to using a pad on the mouthpiece to lessen the vibrations, you could try playing at a lower volume level. I've got some tinnitus myself, and have used musician's earplugs for a while in louder ensembles.

Another consideration - I play diatonic whistle ('tin' whistle,) and the higher-pitched whistles can damage the ears more than the lower-pitched ones. A switch to tenor might also help in terms of lower pitch. (Although the tenor is also capable of more volume than alto.)
 

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I say if you love the sax you shouldn't let an ear problem get in your way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Saxomophone, that is looking like the answer. I have agonized over this for a year now, and I can't seem to walk away from it. I'm going to try the mouthpiece patches, play outside so the sound doesn't bounce back at me, and focus my practices to play a higher percentage of music as opposed to running scales endlessly. There are other things I can do to ease the tinnitus, like cutting back on caffiene, alcohol, and getting more exercise. I just can't walk away from this. I put my horn up for the last two months, but have bought two more I found in pawn shops (a Selmer Bundy II and a King 660, $150 each, in playable condition).
I put this thread up with some reservations, because it definitely seems this is not a popular topic. It hits a bit close to home. But I have found references that many members have some degree of tinnitus, and can't find much discussion elsewhere about safe instrument levels of musicians other than the standard electric guitar or drum cautions.
 

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I also have it in my right ear - I don't agree that it doesn't affect your hearing. Since at any given time, for me, at least, it is a given pitch, it does get in the way - as a band director, I have to break things down since it developed to correct, diagnose, problems with my students. I look at it as more of a stressful nusiance -

For me, high pitch aggravates my tinnitus - I had to junk a lot of commercial work because of a lot of required pic playing on a string of recent gigs.

I wouldn't stop playing, however, because I'm told that it can leave as quickly as it comes. I would however, in playing situations where the plugs, although my tinnitus does conduct up through my jaw bone - can't hurt!

my two cents worth,


Burt
 

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Keep playing and rest your ears for 10mins every hour.

I really freaked out when I first got Tinnitus four years ago. I stopped playing for a bit and wore earplugs and read every bit of nonsense online. Now, I play all the time and notice it less and less; even reading in the quietest room. Playing didn't hurt before I noticed it and it won't hurt me now. What you describe is the tuning in effect-you just notice it more because you listen carefully when you practice.

There is no medication needed, despite the huge onslaught of advertising you come across-ALL of it is a waste. Don't read stories about the inner ear or anything like that-don't read anything about tinnitus. I even bought a dumb laser device and threw it away, feeling bad about inflicting it on anyone else. Searching for cures is the worst symptom of tinnitus. The sounds are normal and meant to be there; it's just that you've now noticed them and they feel hard to ignore-you've probably always had it.

The main thing is to get your confidence back. I went to see a great lady at www.tinnitus.org and she sorted me out really fast. It was called re-training therapy, but basically involved meeting someone who obviously knew their stuff explaining how normal it was and helping me to have fun again. She tested my hearing and let me drop tinnitus as something to worry about-I felt better straight away.

I very rarely wear earplugs, and when I do it's to prevent deafness, not tinnitus. If I feel changes in it, it's usually just a cold coming on and of course your ears need to recuperate after a loud gig. It always goes back to normal.

Jamie O'D
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=jamieforjazz#p/a/u/0/_2FrlQWjOJU
 

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I was worried about this. You can get a ligature, mouthpiece and reed which are not as loud. I try not to play too loud. It's tempting on the sax. I find I like the softer sounds more though.
 

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I do not know much about Tinnitus or have a reccomendation for you, I just wanted to wish you well and hope that some how and some way you can continue to play.

Be well and feel better!!
 

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Hello, for some people with tinnitus type problems, they might want to check out their thyroid just in case, as ringing in the ears can be symptomatic of a problem with that - I've just found out I'm hypothyroid and this was one of the symptoms along with tiredness, feeling cold, weight gain etc
 

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You could try the e-sax whispter mute for dropping the noise level.
Costs a bit, but it works like a charm unless you try to use the earplugs for melting your brain along with the earwax.
 

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My doctor once told me that millions of dollars have gone into the research of this condition with minimal answers. He told me not to worry about it. It isnt the latest opinion or research but he did not feel that it had anything to do with volume or the actual eardrum but rather a harmless neurological event that many people from all walks of life experience.

In short, my non medical opinion is to play on. Its not like your going to go deaf and life is too short to give up simple pleasures.
 

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Great answer.every thing that I went thru ,with tinnitusyou listed.Ito am playing as well as ever Same horns Mps etc The only thing that I have noticed is that lack of sleep seems to make the hiss louder.
Thanks again
Terry
 
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