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Tinnitus in relation to neck/head muscle tension (nih.gov)
161 points by hacker42 on June 19, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments

Only time my tinnitus went away was probably in the 80s or it might be the 90s. I went to a place called "Altered States" in NY named after the movie. Now long defunct. They had Samahdi tanks (ie float tank aka sensory deprivation chamber). I don't normally pay attention to the tinnitus unless the air conditioner is on or the like. It seems like the background tinnitus noise increases to meet just under the level of the air conditioner. Then when the AC is turned off I hear the tinnitus loudly.

So anyway, in the tank, I thought I had the music turned off but I was hearing this really loud buzzing all of a sudden. I thought it was the speaker because they did allow music (which imo is silly, since the point is deprivation). Anywho, as I paid attention to it, the noise got louder, suddenly it hit me this was my tinnitus. And in a weird biofeedback sense my awareness affected the noise and as I paid attention to it, I just turned off the sound and it was gone for the rest of the hour.

Eventually came back and had it ever since.

Went to a similar place in Venice, CA, but was not lucky enough to have the same experience. The tank was also very different. Liked it much less than the NY place.

Sorry for rambling.

I don't know why, but sleeping in a noisy room gives me tinnitus for the next day.

I don't suffer from tinnitus myself, but I've always wondered if this exercise to reduce tinnitus in a reddit comment actually worked: https://np.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/3l3uri/these_guys_light...

...and here's an explanation of why it might work from /r/bestof: https://www.reddit.com/r/bestof/comments/3l54rd/reddituser_a...

Any takers?

Holy crap it worked! Though I expect the tinnitus to come back soon. But this is a good trick to know for those times when it gets really annoying. Thanks!

Yes, it works for a (very) short time. Cool trick, thanks!

It worked long enough for me to exclaim, "holy shit!" Then it went back to normal. It did make my wife look at me strangely though.

Funny result; my tinnitus stopped, but now I hear a different, quieter, very high-pitched tinnitus, that I've never heard before. Perhaps this is hearing-damage tinnitus which has always been drowned out by stress-based tinnitus :)

I'll jump on the +1 train here, but it actually did work, though just for a couple of minutes.

Maybe I didn't do it quite right, but didn't notice a change here.

Interesting, didn't help. My tinnitus was caused by a very loud noise causing some hearing loss, so I constantly hear a squeal in that frequency.

I tried twice and it didn't work at all for me. My tinnitus is caused by otosclerosis rather than tension though so maybe that's why.

I've used that technique successfully. The relief isn't complete and it lasts only for a short period though, a few minutes perhaps.

This never worked for me. Mine was the result of an ear infection. The infection was cleared up long ago, the tinnitus remains.

Saw the original thread on reddit, and tried it. Was blown away that it "worked" for a while afterwards.

That's amazing, it really does work.

Worked for a short time. Once it came back, it's definitely reduced in volume.

Very slight change for me, and it didn't last long at all, couple of minutes.

Not sure if this helps anyone and slightly OT, but reading all these people noticing their Tinnitus and thinking it was normal I had somewhat the opposite experience: I thought I had (weak) Tinnitus for a long time as I often heard some high-frequency whistling. Turns out it was gone once I unplugged all power supply units in the room... Especially the cheaper mobile phone chargers but also things like battery packs or laptop chargers can create quite loud high-pitched noise!

(Also, I once went to a doctor as a small child because I kept hearing this steady beat when trying to sleep. Well, when you hold a pillow to your ear, you can hear your own hearbeat...)

I guess you're a bit like me then. Every once in a while I'll be somewhere and think "this high pitched noise is terrible" because of some tv / chargers / other devices. They're usually quiet enough that moving a few meters away makes it silent again. But almost nobody else can hear it! They're the most annoying in random public spaces... there are at least two spots like that at Bristol airport.

Sometimes I'm almost excited about growing older and losing that range of hearing.

I also have this. I figured it wasn't tinnitus because of how people complain that tinnitus is super annoying and this isn't really.

Then I discovered it was from the electrical apparatus. I actually have to get quite isolated to not be able to hear anything though. Not that I especially try to, although I do tend to disconnect my power extenders before going to sleep, just in case.

This was posted a while ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10325583

Did anyone see improvements following the exercises mentioned in the paper?

For example these:




I have tinnitus from years of shooting without hearing protection (.22 is quiet enough you think you don't need it), along with years of working with power tools and construction.

It actually took me quite a while to realise that it wasn't normal. I wonder how many people are in the same situation and have tinnitus, but don't realise.

Oddly enough, it doesn't really bother me. I've just readjusted my baseline of what silence is to me.

Same exact situation here, and for the same reasons. I was young and stupid and worked as a roadie for a rock band, and numerous other very loud activities (engine room of a tugboat, for example) with no protection. I have constant tinnitus now, but like you it is just sort of the background hum of the universe for me. I suspect that any process which causes you to focus more attention on it will not be helpful.

I've had tinnitus for years but only recently realized that I had it. I always thought it was normal.

I'm in the same boat where it doesn't really bother me. All I need is a small amount of ambient noise and it's a complete non-issue. A simple ceiling fan suffices for me. It only bothers me when I'm in complete silence, which basically doesn't happen.

My tinnitus started with local anesthesia given by dentist. It caused spasm in jaw muscle which I had for almost a month - and as a side effect there was a tinnitus in left ear. The spasm eventually disappeared, but tinnitus never did. It's been 2 years now and by now I've realized that I'll probably never ever enjoy silence again. So let it be a warning what banal anesthesia can cause…

I had a similar experience. I was put to sleep with general anesthetic for a minor operation. When I woke up I immediately thought that the surgeon must have used loud equipment during the procedure, because my ears were ringing. Turns out it was the anesthetic. I haven't heard true silence for 2 years now.

That really sucks. I occupationally get tinnitus. Only thing I found that helps is focusing on relaxing the jaw / facial mussels / something in that area that's hard to describe. It fells like popping your ears, but not quite as much. Which is probably as helpful as telling someone to roll their tongue, but I thought I would put that out there.

I have it 24/7, nothing seems to help. It can be only masked by external noise. Alcohol doesn't help me to get temporal relief - it's even worse, louder.

But by far the worst consequence of tinnitus and the real problem (at least for me) is disturbance of sleep. At first I couldn't fall asleep - because of the noise which manifests itself most strongly in silent environment. So I was lying in bed for a few hours before falling asleep (now I got accustomed so I can fall asleep faster). But even worse is that the noise wakes me up after like 4-5 hours. That means I'm completely exhausted all day, because I need 7-8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. I tried Zolpidem, which can get me 6 hours of sleep, but its effect wears off rapidly if taken for a few consecutive nights. Now I take Mirtazapine, which works better. Also it helped me to take Magnesium supplements.

I was in a similar situation a while ago. You should check out this app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearing-help/id503936600?mt=...

I went to a tinnitus clinic and they did a profile of the tinnitus I hear. Then they configured this app to amplify sounds of those frequencies to mask my tinnitus. When I'm hearing a low buzz the app can almost completely remove it, but it doesn't work quite as well with a high frequencies.

You'll need rubber ear buds that form a tight fit with your ear canal.

Since the app only amplifies sounds it doesn't really do anything in a totally quiet environment. You might want to play pink noise to give your hearing something to work with. I've experimented with different kinds of noise, but this type seems to work the best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXtimhT-ff4

Thanks for tip - I'll ask my doctor about it.

Btw, I've already tried some noise generators for Android and I've observed strange effect - I have ringing only in the left ear so I used only one ear bud with the generator. Then when I turned it off, it induced noise in the other ear. It was like the brain was generating signal to compensate for the external noise in the left ear and when the noise generator was turned off, the spurious signal in the right ear became hearable. Fortunately this effect was only temporal.

Mine has actually helped me sleep better. I can't hear anything in my left ear (save for the constant ringing and some static accompanying particularly loud noises), so I am able to successfully drown out annoying background noises (like my wife's ridiculously loud alarms that never wake her up) by burying my right ear in my pillow.

https://www.vice.com/video/the-ambien-effect - ambien let one man (a former voice actor, no less) regain the ability to control his jaw/face after an unfortunate dental anesthesia incident

The Alexander Technique is worth mentioning if people are affected by this. It seems pretty wishy washy when you first read about it (partially due to the inadequacy of our language for talking about the subtle nature of it). Yoga or other methods to improve posture would probably help as well.

What is the Alexander technique? I could only find bullshit websites trying to sell you something.

Here are a couple of articles. Its very difficult to describe as it deals with the subtle interactions between mind and body.



I unpacked an old book on it this year. Basically you hang your head down a lot. That's it. If you have CCI, or CSF leaks or Chiari, you'll get a little relief, true - but what you really need if that works for you is a neurosurgeon (not neurologist) and an upright MRI. In the seventies, there were no upright MRIs and nobody took chiari or CCI etc seriously so the Alexander Technique was all there was.

"Basically you hang your head down a lot. That's it."

That is the equivalent of saying that "meditation is just sitting there, thats it".

Most teachers agree that at least some hands on lessons are helpful if not essential. If you are going to try to learn from a book then this one is the best I heave read on the subject http://www.missyvineyard.com/content/view/1/2/.

I have had Tinnitus for a long time and recently I have been seeing a specialist about it. One important point is that Tinnitus is a symptom and not a cause, so if you think Tinnitus is causing you to be depressed because it's a constant annoyance - most likely it is working the other way around and the depression is causing the Tinnitus.

If you do have this problem, then going to an Audiologist and not an ENT is really helpful, especially an Audiologist who specialised in this field.

I had it completely the other way round and realised my depression is causing my Tinnitus, they put me on anti-depressant medication and my life had been much better since. An ENT (Ear Nose and Throat specialist) will only be able to give you an MRI and let you know that nothing is physically wrong with you.

It's actually kind of similar to how a neural network functions, and the pathway that causes the ringing sound has a higher weight value than the other sounds you hear, so you hear it more... this causes your fight or flight response to kick in and you focus more on the sound as you think it's a threat, and the sound becomes louder - even though its only a phantom sound.

If you do have Tinnitus, maybe consider that stress or work or some other factor in your life is overwhelming you and seek help for it.

Tinnitus can also be caused by a Vitamin deficiency, such as Vitamin B12 and D, or sometimes tension in muscles in your jaw... very rarely is Tinnitus actually caused by being over exposed to load sounds.

I can provoke my tinnitus (make it audible and increase its volume a lot) by pulling my chin back / stiffen my neck in specific ways. I don't mind it. It always goes away soon after. But it's curious. Never got a proper diagnose for it.

(If someone wants me to participate in studies about this)

Huh, me too. I'd just assumed that was normal; been this way for as long as I can remember (years); tho I have had random short bouts (<30nin) of tinnitus more frequently over past few months.

I never thought mine was an issue. But by doing what you said, it amplified the ringing, and now I realised I've just been good at ignoring it.

I think (!!! the following not well researched, and part guessing) there is at least two different versions of tinnitus.

One is (the standard?) that you get from loud music and stress, which is the result of your inner ear / hair cells being damaged / misbehaving. Extreme-case: You permanently lose part of your hearing.

The second (rare?) is without impairment of hearing. To be honest you are the second person I know who shares my experience. And none of my doctors ever heard of this before. Most think I imagine this / or it's a psychological issue manifesting in your body. I'd guess it's some kind of nerve pinching, maybe bones/muscles are involved too. Hard to say.

A few years back when I researched this I found at least one study with 10-20 individuals who reported this kind of tinnitus, but seems very rare. The result was something like "Many factors are involved in creating a tinnitus".

Thanks for the info.

> Most think I imagine this / or it's a psychological issue manifesting in your body

That's a shame. The fact that it amplifies as soon as I tense my neck muscles should be testable within a lab environment.

I too thought that it was nerve pinching, and because of such, was always under the impression that it was normal. When explaining this to my wife, I just get blank stares :)

This is akin to: scientists now know the head is actually connected to the rest of the body via the neck. I had trouble with my right ear for approx. 5yrs. Finally went to to the dr. because it got to the point the headaches made me want to shoot myself. Apparently the stapia (the thing that vibrates) became infected and essentially was dying inside my head. They replaced it with a titanium one and the only difference is the headaches stopped. I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect the health of ones body, even if it means physically moving to a healthier environ.

I've had terrible neck/head muscle tension as well as very strong tinnitus as far back as I can remember. And for me, reductions in the tension has correlated with improvements in the tinnitus.

When my shoulders and neck are tense after a long day at work, I get a very obnoxious, loud pulsing in my right ear. It took me a long time to figure out that this is related to muscle tension.

I have tinnitus and visual snow (disturbed vision) since 2011. I also have a bad neck due to poor posture (loss of cervical lordic curve);basically straightening of cervical curve. I have this inkling that the two are related.

I totally freaked out in 2011 when these problems cropped up. I got my eyes/ears checked, brain MRI done. Nothing came up in any of them. Now my doctor/family thinks that I'm a hypochondriac and I imagine all of these.

Over a period of time I've made peace and I'm grateful to be alive.

Thanks for sharing this article.

I got tinnitus last September. I have noticed the muscles around my ears feel more tense. I thought that might have been because I've been pay so much more attention to my hearing. Interesting to hear the correlation might be opposite. Thanks for posting this. Considering how common it is, no one really talks about. I guess people who have it know that so far, nothing can be done about it. So they don't bring it up and do their best to forget it. I'm still working on that last bit.

Also, for anyone who might have just got tinnitus and it looking for ways to deal with it, I use noisli.com all the time for ambient sound. The rain noise on there is great!

I wonder if this points to the vagal nerve as one of the causes for tinnitus. Does anyone know more about this? I looked it up online and just found VNS study completed in 2012 and showed some benefits in a small cohort:


Anyone know anything more recent?

Slightly off topic but I got tinnitus not from muscle tension but from loud noise. Carrying ear plugs seems to be the answer for me - blocking noise they recover gradually.

I've some hearing loss and ringing from frequent skydiving, tunnel flying, and too much loud music. It's very loud in the plane and in free fall.

After trying lots of different ear protection methods (mostly ear plugs but also some head phones), I've settled on these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00REAQTF4/ref=oh_aui_sear...

They're simple, filter high dB sound but you can still hear people speak.

See a doctor for further advice and treatment. Once you damage your hearing it could be too late to recover.

i got that from a concert once, lasted about 4 or 5 days I think. I also have a ringing in my head/ears that always go. not sure if its real or not, but i certainly have tension in my neck. maybe this article can help me with some answers

Is it off-topic when its another way to damage the auditory system?

I dont see many "scientists" measuring the damage caused by physical shocks to the body like playing rugby or loud noises which are often well above "health & safety" levels in towns & cities, like sections of the Northern line on the London underground, or using personal music playing devices and so on.

Probably best to consider tinnitus the result of damaged nerves which the brain will attempt to compensate for where possible, just like one's hearing improves at night to compensate for the loss of sight as a natural survival mechanism.

Take magnesium supplements daily, too. They can potentially inhibit some of the glutamate release involved in tinnitus.

Many sources supporting this can be found here:


Can be a symptom of a CSF leak (common in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which 1 or 2 % of the population has, but which is almost never diagnosed.)

The Mystery Headache: Migraine, Positional Headache, Spinal Fluid Leak? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvWxobqKrc&feature=youtu.be

Both this and chiari affect the Vagus nerve.

Paper: Treatment of central and sensorineural tinnitus with orally administered Melatonin and Sulodexide


I find that having whitenoise app on phone next to bed helps. I definitely don't hear tinnitus right after I turn it on.

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