Then realize that there are no actual birds or crickets. No dripping faucet. No clicking or whistling happening in the vicinity.
That is a small glimpse of life with tinnitus: The perception of sound, that doesn’t exist, manufactured by the brain.
"I hear tree frogs and crickets and bugs, and really loud noise on top of that," said Ginny Morrell, 60, who has suffered with tinnitus for two years. "It started one day and never went away. It never wavers, 24 hours a day."
Morrell says she fills her life with sound – a radio during the day, a television droning in the background while she sleeps – as a way to drown out the din. It’s a distraction that sometimes works.
"It’s not going to kill me, it’s not cancer," said Morrell. "But it might drive me crazy."
But according to a new study, the most effective treatment for Morrell’s tinnitus may involve just the opposite of what she’s currently doing: Rather than ignoring the sound, focus on it.
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