May 31, 2016

Tinnitus at 20

This week’s blog has been written by Clara. Here is her insight into living with tinnitus. Please read and share this blog:


“Hi! I’m Clara, I’m 22 and I’ve been living with tinnitus now for over 2 years.


Ever since I was a child, I have loved music. My older brother was in a band and introduced me to lots of genres. One of my favourite things about my brother was how many gigs he used to go to – he used to stick all of his tickets up on his wardrobe door – and I remember that I always set it as my personal goal to go to more than him. As soon as I was 14, on 14th March 2008, my mum let me go to my first gig at Rock City in Nottingham and, as of now, I’ve seen around 400 different bands at gigs and festivals.


Looking back, what worries me now is that for 6 years I was going to very loud gigs and not protecting my hearing. Even when I was 15/16, I was starting to notice a lingering ringing in my ears the morning after. It would fade by lunchtime, so I never really did anything about it.


On 27th March 2014, my housemate surprised me with a ticket to see one of my favourite albums performed in full: 65daysofstatic’s The Fall of Math at Koko. Koko can be a very loud venue for certain bands, and for 65dos’s soaring post-rock, it was anything but quiet. I wasn’t wearing any ear plugs and I left the venue with an exceptionally loud ringing, to the point where I was struggling to hear my housemate on the bus back. That night, I didn’t sleep because I couldn’t get that ringing out of my head, and, while it quietened down over time, it never went away. Ever since then I have been living with tinnitus.


At this point, I was vaguely aware of tinnitus and I knew in the back of my mind that this was probably irreversible. At 20, that’s a pretty horrible thing to have to come to terms with.


A few months of interrupted sleep and stress later, I slipped and hit my head in the shower and noticed the ringing sound was much louder in my left ear than my right, and I knew at that point I couldn’t keep ignoring it and took the action to book myself a doctor’s appointment to see whether I’d done any serious damage.


I was diagnosed with tinnitus officially in March 2015 after a year of audiologist appointments, MRIs and tests.


While it is tough to know that I might have to live with this for the rest of my life, I’m pleased to say the past year has been a lot easier. Living in London is definitely a blessing for me because there is always some kind of background noise to help tune the ringing out when it gets too much: cars, planes, sirens, people.


One of the most important changes I’ve made is investing in some proper earplugs that I carry with me everywhere I go. I know how damaging a gig can be to my ear health, so I will never go to one without some form of ear protection. I still see people at loud gigs with their ears unplugged and it really upsets me to know that my story could happen to them that evening, which is why I’m supporting the Plug’em campaign.”

Comments (2)

  • Dave
    May 31, 2016

    What a great blog. Wearing hearing protection is so important and your experience will hopefully make others realise it’s the best you to do when hearing live and loud music. Keep wearing those musicians’ earplugs!

  • Mardon Erbland
    May 31, 2016

    My tinnitus started around age 40. It originally manifested as me hearing high pitched noise that noone else around me could hear. Ironically, I thought these sounds were ‘real’ and that it meant my hearing was better than normal because I could hear high frequency sounds noone else could hear. They only last 10-15 seconds each time. After several years of this, I love was sitting on our couch on night when sounds came and never went away. That was about 30 years ago. Still hearing the noise as I write this. Early on asked doctor what caused it. He asked several questions. Ever shoot a gun without hearing protection? Yes. Ever use a chainsaw without hearing protection? Yes. Ever us a riding lawnmower without hearing protection? Yes. You get the idea. Unlike you, I’ve got nly been to one rock concert my entire life and that was after I had already developed tinnitus. I go to movie theaters with hearing protection and wonder what that volume is going to do to all the unsuspecting young people around me. Rock concerts are an existential danger to one’s hearing but so are many other things. Thanks for helping to make others aware of the danger.


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