Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Dangerously loud fire alarms in schools

    (3 replies)

    Does anyone have experience in getting schools to turn down the volume of their dangerously loud fire alarms?  I am looking for advice, literature, personal experience or professional expertise... anything that can help me motivate the school to turn down the alarm volume.  I don't want to have to turn this into a legal battle, I just want the alarms turned down.

    Background: My teen has chronic tinnitus (24 hour a day non-stop ringing in his ears caused by exposure to an explosion).   His tinnitus is exacerbated by loud noise which can also potentially cause more permanent damage to his hearing and permanently louder ringing.   The school tested the sound levels and subsequently admitted to me that the noise level is 35-45 db higher than required by law, but they have not turned them down.  Fire alarms continue to go off at the school for no reason (4x so far in two months which were not planned drills and not in response to fire or smoke) and my child comes home distraught with more intense ringing in his ears.  I resent having to send my child to a school where he is exposed to dangerous conditions.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Easier solutions to simple problem. Please keep noise-cutting headphones inside his desk at all times. There are announcements before there’s a fire drill conducted in schools and staff has prior information. Inform them of your son’s requirement and am sure they’ll have him with his headphones before the alarm sets off. There are serious downsides to low volume fire alarms as there are kids with hearing problems also. These drills are in place for real emergencies, that can realistically occur anytime. 

    How about equipping him with earplugs or noise canceling headset for these occasions?  They would have to be kept handy to grab, which might take some planning or practice, but with tinnitus it seems helpful to carry earplugs in a pocket. I recommend “sleep leight” for comfort, searchable on amazon. You can still stay in conversation with the school; possibly the parent board could pursue the matter; and your child is protected in the meantime.

    I don't really know anything about fire alarms. But I have a couple of ideas to get things moving. One is to find out about the alarm and how to turn it down. It may simply be that no one has taken the time to read the manual. The other is to figure out who has the power to turn it down. It may be that you are talking to the principal when a side conversation with a maintenance person may be more productive. The third thing is to find other concerned parents. If there is a whole group of you putting it the pressure on, it may help. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Acupuncture or laser therapy for tinnitus?

Oct 2015

I recently read Norman Doidge's book ''The Brain's Way of Healing'' and read about low-level laser therapy as possible treatment for tinnitus. I have had constant ringing in my ears for the past 5 years and Kaiser ENT department basically says ''there's nothing we can do''. I contacted SF Acupuncture Group, which is a clinic that uses low-level laser therapy as well as acupuncture to treat tinnitus. They assured me they have had success treating tinnitus, but since everyone's response to treatment is different, there is of course no guarantee that this will help me...and I'm not in a position to throw a bunch of money away. Has anyone had success treating tinnitus with this or other methods? Do you have recommendations for practitioners or other treatments I should pursue?
Tired of Tinnitus

I had success with treating my recent bout of tinnitus with acupuncture. I saw Victoria at Blue Sky Acupuncture Studio. http://www.blueskyacustudio.com/ They accepted my insurance too. Good luck- I know how terrible tinnitus can be! active acupuncture patient

Severe tinnitus with monthly cycle

Sept 2013

This is a long shot because I'm pretty sure I'm a medical mystery-- but I thought I'd give it a try. I have pretty bad tinnitus (ringing in my ears) on a good day but every month after I ovulate it starts ramping up. Sometimes, by the time I get my period, I can't hear ANYTHING. loud beeps on microwaves, washing machines, etc., become totally masked by the ringing. It also causes other sounds (mainly voices) to become distorted and muffled. It's like I go deaf every month for a few weeks. I've read that progesterone has been linked to hearing loss but I haven't seen anything about it being episodic like mine. I've been to many specialists, had MRIs, CAT scans, etc. Nobody knows. Does anyone out there have any experience with something similar? I'm thinking of trying Depo Provera once I'm done breastfeeding. The other, more expensive option might be hearing aids. Would love to hear other people's stories if I'm not alone! What?

Hi, Did the tinnitus start with pregnancy? Check out this link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0090301981900239 You should not allow anyone to tell you you are not having a problem. Get some second opinions. maybe from a neurologist. The problem in America is that your chances of getting an accurate diagnosis are only as good as the accuracy of the referral. I had a serious problem festering for years and even giving accurate descriptions was being discounted as hysterical. Finally found an (old) doctor who nailed the problem, operated and ended the symptoms. Change health plans if you have to. Don't settle for no diagnosis

Have you seen an ear, nose, and throat doctor to rule out Otosclerosis?

I've had this ear disease since I was 27; now I am 62 and doing fine with it,

Tinnitus is a feature of otosclerosis in many cases.

Since yours is bilateral, it is not likely to be caused by the worst case, a tumor. Our daughter got ringing in just one ear, and they ordered a MRI . Turned out that she was sitting in front of the loud school bell when it went off and injured the ear temporarily. The ringing eventually stopped. Gunshots are notorious for doing this.

Otosclerosis is a degenerative ear disease, a hereditary single gene disorder. it is easy for an ENT to diagnose. In most cases, hearing loss can be restored by replacing the stapes bone in out-patient surgery. Doctors love us otosclerosis patients because we are so appreciative of the improvements that can be made in our hearing. Tinitus may or may not be improvable.

Later in life, I have needed a hearing aid on one side. The cheapo hearing aids are totally not worth getting. Spend the money for a good one and be pleased. I recommend Hearing Science Inc on Ygnacio Valley Blvd in Walnut Creek.

But first see the ENT. Try Bernard Drury MD on Summit Road in Oakland. The doctor will order an audiogram to determine what hearing aid will help.

Don't worry! Amelia

I have tinnitus and have had a lot of success with a product called bio ear. http://www.bioearcorp.com/ It is easy to apply and all natural and worth a shot, it may work for you. Good luck.. AA

Tinnitus after taking an anti-inflammatory

Jan 2013

My husband recently was on an anti-inflammatory (Relafen) to help with some leg pain. After about 12 days of taking it, Tinnitus started in both ears. For him, it’s a high pitched sound that is almost always present. He immediately stopped taking the medication and it’s been about 6 days since he stopped, but the tinnitus is still present and doesn't seem to have lessened. After some research, he has learned that a side effect of Relafen can be permanent Tinnitus. This is noise is debilitating for him, he has having trouble working and sleeping is also a huge issue (it's the worst when it is quiet). He put up with it for a few days hoping it would fade, but is now very anxious that it may never go away and doesn't know what to do next.

I wanted to ask the BPN community if you could share any stories of hope regarding having Tinnitus/getting under control/coping with it or if folks could share any advice or referrals for Eye/Ears/Throat Doc or audiologists in the east bay. We are open to anything - western, eastern, anything. It's just so terrible to see your partner suffer...
Worried spouse.

I'm sorry your husband is having this problem. A colleague with tinnitus told me he quit caffeine and dairy and cut back on alcohol, at the suggestion of someone in his tinnitus support group, and it helped a lot. The tinnitus is still there, but it is much quieter, and he can function normally during the day and sleep at night. On one occasion, he unknowingly drank a caffeinated drink and the tinnitus increased that day. I hope your husband finds some relief. Good luck

Dear Worried Spouse, I cannot really offer much advice to your husband, but just wanted to mention that I have the same problem with tinnitus. I took high doses of Relafen for several months for upper back pain. I didn't notice the tinnitus symptoms until 4 months later. Now 4 years later, I still have the ringing. I do not notice it much during the day unless it's very quiet, but definitely hear the faint, high pitch ringing in the ears at bedtime (more in the right ear than the left). For me, I have been able to mentally block it out and just ignore it. Try not to focus on the sound (of course, easier said than done)and this takes practice. I assume seeing an ENT is the way to go, but I have not done it-as far as I know, there is no known cure. I have avoided all NSAIDs (includes Advil and Motrin) because I believe they all have tinnitus as a side effect. Not sure if taking more of this med. would make the tinnitus worse, but I'm not taking any chances.

All the best to him. I hope he finds a way to deal with his issues. If he finds a cure, please post! Tinnitus too

I am not sure if this will be helpful but I have permanent tinnitus from an inner ear disorder. When it first developed I suffered many of the same symptoms as your husband. Was told there really wasn't much I could do other than white noise machines to mask the sound at night.

All I can say is that I got used to it. It took a while but at this point only at rare times is it disabling. The overwhelming majority of the time I can ignore it. I hope someone else here can recommend something more hopeful than I (acupuncture didn't help me) but perhaps knowing that a person can get acclimated to it can be reassuring. cjs

Hi I developed tinnitus about 3 years ago and I thought I was losing my mind. Believe it or not, a low dose anti-depressant is what ended up helping me. I tried EVERYTHING- craniosacral therapy, massage, hypnosis, ear drops, etc. It is really maddening and frustrating and you really can feel like you are going crazy. I'm so sorry for your husband!

Since I started taking a really low dose of Zoloft, I've gotten used to the ringing and most days i dont notice it at all. It's still there, but it doesn't cause the anxiety it was causing before. I just have to sleep with white noise on, otherwise it's hard to fall asleep. My dr. said I could try weaning off the meds, but I don't ever want to go back there!! My quality of life is back to normal and I forget I have it. I don't know if taking meds is a typical treatment- I had some pre-existing anxiety issues anyway- but it worked for me. Anon

I really can empathize with your story about your husband's onset of tinnitus. It's a very difficult thing to live with. Without going into detail, mine started almost 20 years ago when I was pregnant due to complications. Just one day, boom, I woke up with it and other dysfunction in my hearing. When my baby was 6 months old, I finally got to an ENT (Richard Kerbavez in Berkeley) and had a hearing test and diagnosis. The theory was that the extra fluid I had on board damaged the cochlear. At any rate, I had hearing loss in certain ranges, incessant high pitched ringing, and the curse of the world being too loud while also not being able to distinguish between consonants all the time.

That said, I've done nothing about it other than sleep with white noise. The ''feed back loop'' theory is that with other noise to mask it, the tinnitus recedes into the background. That's why it is very hard for me to sleep anywhere where I don't have access to white noise, like a space heater or fan. Being in loud noises also makes it worse for me at night. I never pursued a ''masker'' because of the cost, though maybe they have come down in price. I just live with it. And always will. Just know that you're not alone in your frustration. But there is a lot of info online. And Captain Kirk (what was the actor's name?) is the spokesman for the cause! Best of luck. Left Ear Sufferer

As a sufferer of Tinnitus I empathize with your husband. I have been suffering with tinnitus for over two years (almost 3 now). I don't think anyone can really understand what it is like to have a constant assault of noise in your brain until you have it. I got tinnitus after an episode of sudden sensorial hearing loss in my right ear. The majority of my hearing returned (thank g-d) but the tinnitus remained.

I have to say at first it was absolutely debilitating. I felt suicidal & helpless. The depression I felt over the loss of my ability to have silence or enjoy anything without the bombardment of the ringing was overwhelming. I mourned the loss of my silence, like one would mourn the loss of a limb. I wanted it back, but there was no going back and I was angry and very sad about this. I even blamed myself, maybe I could have done something different. Why me!

Determined to find answers I went to numerous ENTs, visited the clinic at UCSF and a therapy specialist, as well as researched online, joined chat groups for info and support... anything I could do to feel empowered over my situation. Anything to give me hope that I wouldn't have to ''learn to live with it''. What I learned is... there are treatments, long term treatments... which don't necessarily have high success rates and costs lots of money. But, the most important thing I learned was that it does get better and that even thought the ringing might not go away, the impact it has on your life will shift. It did shift. I learned to see my tinnitus as a disability that I would need to manage.

At first I surrounded myself with noise enrichment constantly and avoided silence at all costs - it makes a difference (fans, listened to white noise on my ipod that cancelled out the noise and gave some relief). I took (and still take) 1mg of Ativan every day in the evening when it is worst, to help me sleep. I sleep with a fan and noise machine to help. For the first 6 months I avoided silence. Although I did find that being out in nature or by the ocean helped tremendously.

Over time you begin to have huge gaps of time when you don't even think about it... you actually forget it's there because you are not paying attention to it. Even the tone of the once high pitch ringing/buzzing is now more like a hush. i over time have learned to accept and live with my tinnitus and am able to look at my future with optimism rather than anguish. i know i will have good days when i am not bothered by the sound and bad days when i wish i was anywhere but here (in my body). i recognize life could be a lot worse - and that overall my life is filled with wonderful things that have me feel whole and fulfilled. it would be nice to not have this - but i guess it would be nice... a lot of things.


1) avoid silence and use noise enrichment.
2) find support (in chat groups, on Facebook (American Tinnitus Association) or with a behavior modification therapist).
3) mourn the loss and be gentle and patient with yourself through the process.
4) remember it does get better
5) continue to stay connected to what's happening in tinnitus treatments and research

6) avoid all the fast fixes advertised (from all the research I have found from personal experiences they are all scams and a waste of money).


Sudden hearing loss followed by tinnitus

April 2010

I recently had an unexplained episode of sudden hearing loss that resulted in tinnitus (a constant high pitched ringing in my right ear). It has been debilitating and very depressing and I am looking for support and advice. Have you personally experienced this or know of someone who has. And if so how has it been managed or relieved. Any positive feedback would be welcomed. Also, if you know of a great ENT specialist that would be great. As I was a little disappointed with the 2 that I saw. Thanks. raquel

I'm hard of hearing and have suffered from various tinnitus off and on for many years. There is no cure but here are some resources online to help you deal with it:

American Tinnitus Association: http://www.ata.org/
Dr. Nagler's Tinnitus and Hypercusis Site: http://www.tinn.com/
Tinnitus Links: http://www.tinnitus.asn.au/links.htm

Most commonly caused by noise exposure, tinnitus reduces quality of life for 250 million people worldwide, so you're not alone. my ears ring!

I had sudden hearing loss in mid-January with the awful accompanying tinnitus. Let me first say how sorry I am you are going through this--it IS debilitating and depressing. Because there is no outward manifestation of it, I find that while friends/family are supportive, they really have no idea just how exhausting it is to have a constant high-pitched ringing 24/7. This is on top of dealing with the hearing loss itself! I feel for you.

I have Kaiser, so I've been seeing an ENT and audiologist through that system. My ENT essentially ruled out underlying medical causes, then said it was probably due to a virus and that there was nothing medically that could be done. My audiologist at the Kaiser hearing center in San Francisco has been great--very supportive, kind, and understanding (he also has tinnitus, and his mother had SSHL, too). He suggested I try a hearing aid that has two settings--one is the basic amplification, and the other is a masking setting. Basically, it plays chimes at random intervals so that the ear has something to listen to besides the ringing. There is also white noise in the background. I've only had it a few days, and I can't say I'm raving about it thus far, but it does seem to provide some respite from the constant ringing. Obviously, this is only going to work if some of your hearing came back after your episode of hearing loss. The company that makes this hearing aid is Widex and you can check it out online.

The other thing I've read about but haven't tried is the Neuromonics system. It is expensive ($5000) and not every audiologist carries it, but it's a system designed to retrain your brain so that you don't ''hear'' the tinnitus as much. They did a clinical trial with promising results. Good luck! Melissa

hi there, my stepdad has tinnitus. from what i understand he wears an special hearing aid that is called a masking device. it sends out a sound that counteracts the ringing & therefore lessens it. it works for him. the best place to buy he said was costo. good luck

I am sorry to hear about your tinnitus. I got tinnitus 13 years ago (I am now 39) and at first I also found it very hard to cope with and very depressing.

While I found no way to cure the ringing, I did find ways to manage. I avoid getting stressed, which makes it much worse, and I try to think about the tinnitus as little as possible. I do yoga to relax, I get a massage on a regular basis. I try to think ''Oh, thats my tinnitus. It's still there. It's not too bad'' when I notice the ringing, and then let it go. I listen to soothing de-stressing CD's (you can check out musicure.com). These are my long-term coping strategies. I know that there are support groups for people with tinnitus, taking the focus away from the ringing works better for me, but everyone is different. You can check out the tinnitus support group in SF on www.ata.org/node/530. From what I understand there is still a good chance that your tinnitus may disappear again, since it has only been there for a short time. Living well with tinnitus

I am a chronic tinnitus sufferer. My tinnitus was created by a hormonal imbalance, but, unfortunately, resolving the hormone problem did not end the ringing. I am so sorry for you--I know the discomfort and disruption this condition causes.

I hope someone will have a good ENT suggestion for you. I was also disappointed in mine. Basically, he had no idea why the tinnitus persisted. He said that they really don't understand tinnitus, and that I just had to learn to live with it.

Which, 4 years later, I guess I have. I bought a clock with a sound machine (waves, frogs, etc.) to help me fall asleep at night. I avoid circumstances that increase the symptoms (sadly, sitting in my kids' room while they fall asleep is one of them). If it gets bad, I stick my head in the freezer--I have no idea why, but the hum of the motor or the cold cancels the ringing out. Even one minute of relief can go a long way.

I have a good friend who had some luck with acupuncture for his stress-related tinnitus. If the ENTs fail you, there would certainly be nothing to lose in trying that route. Good Luck--I hear your pain

Dr. Robert Jackler at Standford is among the best in his field. He's very friendly and seems to care about patients too. AR

Tinnitus - has anyone had any luck with a cure?

April 2008

My husband has been suffering from tinnitus for the last 13 years and we are trying to find some form of treatment that will help him if not get rid of it, at least make it more bearable. He's tried cognitive thinking therapy, accupuncture, reiki massages, and these have all been unsucessful. If anyone can recommend an accupuncturist that truly knows what s/he is doing, or any other physician or holistic treatment that has been beneficial, please let me know. Many thanks and God Bless. CM

Earlier this month, the NYTimes had an article about tinnitus and a new treatment. ''New Therapies Fight Phantom Noises of Tinnitus'' By KATE MURPHY Published: April 1, 2008


I would ask your ENT for a neurology refferal or for an MRI. Persistant tinnitus is one symptom of an acoustic neuroma - a type on non-malignant tumor that grows around the acoustic nerve in the brain.... while it is non-malignant, it can become very dangerous as it grows, especially if it begins to press against the brain stem.

Ear infection and very bad tinnitus

April 2006

I currently have an ear infection and very bad tinnitus. I CAN'T HEAR A THING. WHAT? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? Does anybody have any experience with this? What if it never goes away? My doctor was not very encouraging about treatment and long term prognosis. Are there any alternative treatments you have found helpful? I'd appreciate any advice and recommendations. But speak up, please! So loud. So very very loud.

I have had tinnitus for over 15 years, however, mine only bothers me at night when it is quiet. Just recently I have seen Michelle Bullard for acupunture. It quieted my tinnitus almost immediately. Her number is 845-8282. She's in Berkeley on 4th Street. I am not ''Noise Free'', but only hear the noise occasionally. It is now a much more manageable noise. Janet

You must get to an ENT. I have recurring and horrible ear problems - it took me 4 ENTs to find one who cared enough to work it through. Tinnitus can be very difficult to treat but with patience and care it can be. peter

My tinnitus has gotten worse

Oct 2002

Does anyone have information about treating tinnitus? I've had a minor problem with it for a few years, but it seems to have gotten worse after a cold. I saw an ears/eyes/throat doctor a few years ago who was extremely unhelpful, unsympathetic, and told me basically to live with it. Are there other doctors in the area, or alternative heath care providers who have been helpful to others? anon.

To the tinnitus sufferer: I developed ringing in my ears more than 20 years ago, and it's easier today than it was then to actually be recognized as having a disabling affliction. It is awful. But to the point: five years ago my tinnitus got worse AND I started to notice loss of hearing in one ear. An ENT told me to live with it and get a hearing aid. He was SO WRONG! I insisted on a second opinion and found out that I had a benign but potentially very serious tumor growing on my auditory nerve. I had it removed surgically. I don't want to panic you, but a change in hearing should be investigated thoroughly. Tinnitus usually occurs as a result of some kind of hearing loss, often very minor. It's considered an auditory feedback loop established neurally, and severing the auditory nerve does not relieve the internal noise (believe me, I am now deaf in one ear, and it's FULL of sound!!!).

So investigate your hearing with a good audiologist, and if you have lost hearing unilaterally, and either the hearing or the tinnitus changes, consider more investigation. The tumor is VERY RARE and non-malignant and goes by the names ''acoustic neuroma'' and ''vestibular schwannoma.'' If you have one, there is microsurgery or radiosurgery to save hearing if you catch the growth while it's small. And ... what do I do about my tinnitus, which is quite severe? I used to use a ticking windup clock by my bed to compete with the internal noise. There are bio-feedback therapies that help, and white noise masking devices. Eliminating caffiene and alcohol are helpful to some sufferers. There's lots of stuff on the Internet if you want to do some sleuthing. But don't take guff from the doctors. Anyone who doesn't have tinnitus doesn't understand it.

Best of luck to you. Neverending noise