Tom has tinnitus.
He agreed to share how it has effected his life in this blog, in the hope it might encourage you to protect your ears from tinnitus and hearing damage.
Please read, share and help spread the Plug’em message to protect hearing from tinnitus.
“I still remember the first time I began to realise this unwelcome noise in my head was here to stay. I was 21 and living in France at the time. Up until that point I, like many people, only became aware of the noise(s) after a night out partying. Either leaving a bar or club, ears ringing with whatever had been playing, or waking up the morning after only for it to eventually fade.
That morning when I woke was different. I hadn’t been out the night before and yet I could hear the noise. The unexplained ringing. I thought it would pass, just like the times before, but it didn’t. I grew increasingly frustrated that this noise just wouldn’t go. I remember hitting my head, I tried everything I could think of, from popping my ears as if I was on a plane and shouting or shaking my head. Yet nothing worked and there was seemingly nothing I could do.
Up to this point in time I hadn’t been aware of the word tinnitus, let alone what it was. I don’t really remember what happened directly after this. I remember thinking, “I am I the only one who can hear this or the only person with it”. I know I spoke to my parents about it and my Dad said that he also suffered with it, but had learnt to live with it. I guess this put me at ease to an extent, but I was still unwilling to accept that I would be stuck with these noises for any length of time.
I was back in the UK and had been to see my doctor who referred me to the ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) department at the hospital. I spoke with the specialist who explained what he could; that there really was nothing they could do to help. I had a hearing test and was given a leaflet on methods of coping.
Over the years I’ve been back for a follow up hearing test and an MRI. The doctors explained there are many possible factors that cause tinnitus.
I grew up listening to loud music, going to festivals and parties from a young age. No one really knew or explained the impact this could have in later life. I overthink and am prone to stress and anxiety, but who knows what is the true cause.
I’ve had tinnitus for 12 years now and every year it gets gradually worse. I find it hard to quantify, as it’s much like growing old. You don’t really notice from day to day, but when you look back and think, “man, I’m sure I didn’t look like this 3 or 4 years ago”, you realise that new noises have been added and things get gradually louder. Since moving back from France 2 years ago to London I’ve adopted a new noise. I can only describe it as a low level rumbling, much like the sound of a distant aircraft taking off.
These days I can hear this noises over some background noise, the TV, talking etc. I also get pulsatile tinnitus, the type that adds a pounding drum in your ear in sync to your heartbeat, but this passes and is worse when I have a cold!
I’ve grown to live with the noises and each day is a new challenge. Most of the time I cope fine, or at least I don’t realise the impact it has. Some days I regress to the first day I realised I had it and want to put my head through a wall. The thing that gets me the most is new noises, anything that I’m not habituated too. I’m acutely aware of quiet noises, like distant car alarms or a far off message alert. I worry about my hearing in later life and the thought of not being able to differentiate between the noise in my head and a noise downstairs. There are many fears I have about the future, but you have to live in the present, right?
It would be nice to one day think I and everyone else who suffers with it will be able to enjoy true silence again. I guess until then the noises are stuck with me”.
You can also visit the BBC iWonder page ‘How can I stop gigs and festivals ruining my hearing?’ which reinforces the message to protect hearing from tinnitus at clubs, gigs and festivals.
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