Patient Stories

Many people with severe tinnitus have been able to successfully control their condition. Read inspiring stories from real patients and learn from their experiences.

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Tinnitus Today, ATA’s prestigious member magazine, delivers positive patient stories and the latest tinnitus news and science three times a year.

Tinnitus is a difficult medical condition, but not one that cannot be successfully managed. Many patients — including many with extremely burdensome cases — have found relief through the use of tinnitus management treatments. With perseverance and the guidance of medical professionals trained in tinnitus management, these patients have lowered the burden of their tinnitus, allowing them to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives.

ATA has compiled a series of true, first-person narratives from real tinnitus patients, discussing their efforts to find tinnitus relief. We hope these stories provide others with a sense of optimism and inspire fellow tinnitus patients to actively try one or more tinnitus management options.

Many of the stories included below were previously published in Tinnitus Today, ATA’s membership magazine.

If you would like to share the story about your own experience with tinnitus, please contact the Tinnitus Today Editor at editor@ata.org. While ATA is not able to publish all submitted content, we we include selected contributions in Tinnitus Today magazine and the ATA website.

Message from William Shatner to You

William Shatner - Star Trek

Regardless of the characters I portray on TV and on the big screen, my tinnitus once buried me in a negative place where many of you are now - or have been. Believe me when I say, “I’ve been there.”

Caitlin Connors’ Love for One Helps Many

Caitlin Connors’ Love for One Helps Many

During a weekend trip to Miami, Fla., in February 2006, Caitlin’s aunt experienced a screeching fire alarm going off in her hotel. As a result, she acquired tinnitus and sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), losing 70 percent of her hearing up to 4,000 kHz. Caitlin says of the incident, “We try not to talk about it … but her anger about what happened is always there.”

Can There Be Peace Without Quiet?

Can There Be Peace Without Quiet?

I remember February 6, 2002 very well. It was the day silence came to an end. I woke up and went to work that day like I had so many days before. Was there a hint of tinnitus in the morning? I don’t remember. What I do remember is that by the afternoon I had a screaming noise in my left ear.

Firefighters – Damping Flames, Saving Lives, Developing Tinnitus

Firefighters – Damping Flames, Saving Lives, Developing Tinnitus

I began noticing a low level of tinnitus around 1980. In 2000, the level spiked dramatically, spiraling me down into a pit of depression. I could not sleep or eat; I stayed in bed with sweats and shaking spells; I lost strength and considerable weight. My wife held me in her arms, trying to comfort me, and still I thought I was going to die.

The Gift of Tinnitus

The Gift of Tinnitus

My tinnitus came about after repeated exposure to loud noise while playing Wallyball, a game in an enclosed racquetball court. The noise sounded like a gunshot going off near my right ear each time I hit the ball. I had no idea that this sound was damaging my hearing until it was too late. I was very upset at the time since, ironically, I was trying to increase my physical activity to reduce stress and get in better shape. Now that I had constant ringing in my ear, I had even more stress than before.

Tinnitus Spouse Survival

Tinnitus Spouse Survival

As spouses, we must appreciate the real physical and psychological toll that tinnitus takes on the those who have it. Tinnitus is invisible ñ no cast, no limp, no cough, no definitive way to measure its presence or severity.

Tinnitus and Relationships

Tinnitus and Relationships

Chronic illness will test anyone’s mettle. And pain aside, illness can send a patient into an emotional tailspin and often send loved ones right along with. Over time, chronic illness can tear some relationships apart, straining couples financially and causing the caretaker to resent the loss of enjoyable pastimes in favor of caring for the ill partner. Miraculously, illness brings some couples closer together as it puts life into sharper and more precious perspective.

Volunteering: A Way To Peace And Quiet

Volunteering: A Way To Peace And Quiet

How can we not want to do all we can to support an organization that literally rescues people from the brink? Write that check. And contact the ATA about volunteer opportunities in your area. There are people out there who need your experience and your example of “living with tinnitus.”

Sounds to Soothe

Sounds to Soothe

The principal aim of my album is to provide a period of listening that masks tinnitus and relaxes the listener, thus overriding the heightened emotional response to tinnitus.

The Value of a Support System

The Value of a Support System

Meredith Wilhelmi took part in the June 2010 Jack Vernon Walk to Silence Tinnitus, held near ATA’s headquarters in Portland, Ore. But she didn’t come alone – she brought her support system. Meredith’s story demonstrates how tinnitus changed her life and how these important people helped make it all bearable.

Just One Sound

Just One Sound

Tinnitus has been a very noisy part of my life for eight years – ever since the day I changed the battery in a smoke detector and the unthinkable occurred: The alarm went off next to my ear. It all happened in a split second. … I used to think my experience was unique, but I was wrong. Through the American Tinnitus Association, I found a network of wonderful people ready to share their stories, people who understand whistling teakettles and jet engine sounds. I came to realize that lots of people live with tinnitus every day, and that there are many ways to cope with it – and cope with it well.

How My Brain Put Tinnitus in its Place

How My Brain Put Tinnitus in its Place

My tinnitus didn’t happen all at once, the product of sudden noise exposure. It was the creeping, insidious kind, just like my hearing loss, which began before I even noticed, perhaps 20 years ago. Eventually, my stability was under attack. Thanks also to an unrewarding newspaper job, my energy and purpose were replaced by depression and anxiety. I didn’t know if the depression and anxiety worsened my tinnitus or tinnitus worsened my depression and anxiety. Probably both. Finally, I sought help.

How One Couple Challenged Tinnitus

How One Couple Challenged Tinnitus

When her tinnitus struck, Barbara was in the midst of her teaching career, working with 7th and 8th grade students. She and her husband, Dean, enjoyed taking motorcycle day tours. And though Barbara experienced episodes of tinnitus after a few of their rides, it seemed to always go away. But on Aug. 3, 2000, it was here to stay. On this day, Barbara says she “went into panic mode, with a bit of hysteria.” Knowing nothing about tinnitus, she found her way to ATA’s 1-800 number and to a tinnitus support group in her area. Upon learning that she wasn’t alone with her disquieting experience, she immediately felt better.

Meet Melanie West: ATA’s Desert Rose

Meet Melanie West: ATA’s Desert Rose

For as long as she can remember, Melanie has heard a noise in her ears. As a child she didn’t realize that this wasn’t normal. But as she got older and was able to tell people about it, she was frustrated to find out that her problem was often not considered to be serious, or in some cases even real! After doctors and psychologists told her that it was all in her imagination, Melanie felt frustrated and defeated. Previously a strong student, Melanie’s grades suffered as she fell into a bit of a funk. Fortunately, all was not lost.

My Choice: A Concert Pianist’s Personal Story

My Choice: A Concert Pianist’s Personal Story

I have devoted my life to the study of sound. I am not a physicist, a doctor, or an audiologist. I am a master of sound, an accomplished concert pianist. Since the age of eight, I’ve studied the relationship between the body and the vibration of musical notes. What I couldn’t have known is that one day I would deeply yearn for the one note I would never hear again – the note of “no sound.”

Patient Stories

There are as many experiences of tinnitus as there are people. Learn about the various ways people manage their condition and take back their lives.

Tinnitus Research

ATA is one of the only organizations worldwide funding tinnitus research. Learn about ATA's innovative Roadmap to a Cure, and recently-funded studies.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

You have choices when it comes to tinnitus treatment. Learn about your options, including general wellness, sound therapy, behavioral therapies and more.