Tinnitus Success Story 1: Beth
With a background in speech pathology and audiology, Beth Loeben had an idea what her issue was when her ears suddenly started ringing as she relaxed on the family couch on Christmas day. She wasn’t concerned, though—the sound was quiet, only in the background. But Beth had no idea her peace of mind was going to be so short-lived.
A few days later, a traumatic event happened in front of Beth’s home that was very stressful for her and her family. Then, suddenly and dramatically, the switch was flipped, and her tinnitus ramped up to unbearable levels.
Beth’s tinnitus was high-pitched, marked by the sound of high-speed winds and glass shards smashing together. The sound followed her relentlessly 24 hours a day. Her work suffered; she found it impossible to string a thought together to write an email. She even approached her HR department about taking an extended leave of absence.
Beth pursued every avenue she could think of to find relief. She saw an audiologist who, when Beth asked what could be done to lessen her symptoms, replied, “Not much.” She saw an acupuncturist who offered her several relaxing sessions, countless supplements, but no actual relief. And, she went to an ENT, who gave her a complete physical workup and declared her structurally perfect. Nothing was physically wrong with her, it seemed, so nothing could be done.
Beth hit bottom. In one last desperate attempt, she went to a new clinician’s office in Colorado called Sound Relief. She told them she needed help and she broke down. Beth was immediately comforted to hear that the doctor running the clinic had tinnitus herself. Right away, Beth felt better, knowing she had found a doctor who could empathize because she had walked in Beth’s shoes.
Beth’s doctor recognized that she had to lessen her anxiety, which was only making her tinnitus worse. She started Beth on tone therapy and within a week her anxiety had dissipated. Beth’s doctor also fitted her with hearing aids that deliver tones to her ears that calmed her, masked the tinnitus and lessened her symptoms.
Today, with her anxiety gone and her symptoms managed, Beth is living an active life with her tinnitus. She encourages all patients struggling with tinnitus to not be scared of or embarrassed by their condition—rather, to seek out help … because there are solutions that work and people who care.
Learn more about Beth’s story on YouTube.
Tinnitus Success Story 2: Robert
For over three decades, Robert Winston has been protecting the public. As a career firefighter, Robert has been called on to put out fires, step up in the face of tragedy, and help those who couldn’t help themselves. But it took a community of support when he needed help saving himself.
Robert started noticing the symptoms of tinnitus in the early 1980s. For 20 years, he lived relatively comfortably with the sound, and dismissed it as a side-hazard of a noisy job. But in 2000, the noise level dramatically spiked. Almost overnight, Robert’s tinnitus went from a mildly annoying background noise to a crippling, deafening din.
Robert quickly spiraled into a debilitating depression. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. He lost weight and muscle strength. The once-virile Robert rarely left his bed, his days and nights spent shaking and sweating. And despite his wife’s best attempts to comfort him, Robert genuinely thought he was going to die.
While we know very little today about effective tinnitus treatments, 20 years ago, we knew even less. Robert’s physician prescribed him an anti-depressant to try to improve the state of Robert’s mental health—but it made the tinnitus even worse.
Robert was desperate for relief, but not ready to give up. Finally, he found a clinician well-versed in treating tinnitus. He put Robert on a treatment plan that including tinnitus retraining therapy, counseling, and the support of loving family and friends. That plan, along with some prayer, Robert says, helped him out of the darkness. He now considers himself a “tinnitus survivor,” and speaks and writes about his experience to try to help other firefighters prevent and manage the condition.
Learn more about Robert’s story at the American Tinnitus Association.
Related: Does Tinnitus Ever go Away?
Tinnitus Success Story 3: Glenn
Glenn Schweitzer has never known silence. As far as he knows, he was born with tinnitus. He never remembers a time when he couldn’t hear a high-pitched tone, and it was a revelation to learn that other people couldn’t hear it, too. Still, tinnitus was his definition of normal, so his life with it was relatively comfortable. But in 2011, that all changed. Glenn was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, and the companionable pitch he had always known became a fire alarm in his ear, screeching without ceasing day and night.
Soon after Glenn’s diagnosis, he began meditating to cope with the stress of Meniere’s. While it helped some, the tinnitus repeatedly broke his concentration. Every time he would try to meditate—clearing his mind, focusing all of his attention on the rising and falling of his breath—his tinnitus would break through and drive him to distraction.
One night, as he was lying in bed and once again struggling to meditate, he was struck by an idea. He knew that an important part of his meditation practice was focusing his attention on a single thing—usually his breathing. What if, instead of trying to push away his tinnitus, he focused on it instead? What if he allowed his brain to spend time with the thing it was working so hard to resist?
To Glenn’s astonishment, it worked. As he focused on his tinnitus, his mind began to wander. He would pull it back to the tinnitus, and it would wander again. It was like his mind suddenly lost interest. And when he completed his first session, the ringing was markedly quieter. Glenn was stunned—and elated.
Glenn continued to practice tinnitus-focused meditation every chance he got. His symptoms lessened, his sleep got better, and his quality of life improved dramatically. Glenn even went on to write a book about his experience called Rewiring Tinnitus: How I Finally Found Relief from the Ringing in My Ears.
Learn more about Glenn’s story at Healthy Hearing.