Silence isn’t always golden | Tinnitus Awareness Week 2017

My life is never silent. You may believe that my mild deafness would provide me with some tranquillity in a loud world, but when those opportunities arise, thinking occurs. Moments when you can observe the environment around you always leads to your mind quickly searching for something else to focus on – be it someone in the distance, the wildlife, whatever. Unfortunately for me, my attention always shifts to the same place.

taw2017
Photo: British Tinnitus Association

Everything is silent. Where is the noise in the room? Things are too quiet. At that point, the ringing starts.

My tinnitus reaches boiling point as two whistling kettles scream into my ears – at least, that’s what it sounds like. It’s the common description I use, yet to every sufferer, the sound is different. A specific tone we can only hear in our heads is hard to convey, but for me, by far the most annoying thing is that a simple thought about tinnitus can lead to it being at the forefront of my mind.

Even as I type this article now, the whistling is going on in the corner of my head (or in my ears, wherever). I can pay attention to it, in the hope that that will make it go away (it doesn’t), or I try to ignore it. Both have the same problem, though: I’ll look over there and try to distract myself from tinnitus and I’ll pay attention to my tinnitus to make it go temporarily mention the word tinnitus, and that is all you need.

It’s this weird thought process that continues ad infinitum until an important activity or task distracts you. However, when in bed and trying to get to sleep, I don’t have anything to use to divert my attention. For me, silence isn’t always golden.

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This week was Tinnitus Awareness Week, and ran from February 6 to February 12. Unfortunately, a busy seven days full of university assignments, lectures and other commitments meant I couldn’t create a YouTube video sharing my thoughts. It would have been perfect (since my channel is somewhat orientated around sign language, deaf awareness and so forth) but I just couldn’t find the time. Then again, this blog post allowed me to flex my writing muscles and hopefully it gave you somewhat of an insight into what life with tinnitus is like.

I’ve never really known what caused my tinnitus or indeed my mild inner-ear deafness, but what I do know is that the former is a pain in the backside, and something you wouldn’t want others to suffer from.

The British Tinnitus Association has lots of useful information on their website, including this page on how to prevent tinnitus from developing.

Action on Hearing Loss also have some helpful resources available on the topic. These can be found here.

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Deafinitely Challenging: The Constant Ringing of Tinnitus

Imagine a kettle that never stops boiling. This is perhaps the best way to describe tinnitus. In medical terms, it’s often described as being a whistling or ringing in the ear which is permanent. Personally, I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It is permanent and with this week being Tinnitus Awareness Week, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience of living with tinnitus, as well as what you can do to prevent yourself from developing the condition.

Man covering his ears.
Photo: Coty Schwabe on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Admittedly, the origins of my hearing loss and tinnitus have always been a bit of a blur. However, since the early teens I can remember struggling to get to sleep at night because of tinnitus. Almost like reverse psychology, your mind tells you not to think about the loud ringing inside your ears, but naturally you only focus on it more. Whilst my hearing aids have masked the ringing during the day, not everyone is in my position.

For that reason, I cannot stress how important it is to listen to music safely. I have often seen cocky teenagers eager to show off their tastes in music on a busy train to London. The worrying thing about it though, is that if I can hear their music from the other side of the carriage, then God knows how loud it must be in their own ears.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that tinnitus is currently incurable and once your hearing is gone, it’s gone. There are many articles online which state the loudest volume – usually 80dB – which you can expose your ears to. Granted, music can be a wonderful thing – but is it really something to lose something as important as your hearing for?

Do you know someone who suffers from tinnitus, or do you have it yourself? Let me know about your experience with the condition by commenting below! 

Liam

Tinnitus Awareness Week runs from the 8th February to the 14th February. If you would like to find out more about tinnitus, or learn how to fundraise for the British Tinnitus Association, then you can click here. This blog update is also part of my ‘Deafinitely Challenging’ series, where I explore the main difficulties for deaf/hard of hearing people in the UK.

Thoughts on Tinnitus

This week is Tinnitus Awareness Week. For those who don’t know, I’m mildly deaf and have tinnitus. Tinnitus itself differs for each person, but for me, tinnitus is a loud ringing in my ears that appears whenever it is silent or there is no background noise.

Imagine this: you are about to go to sleep in a peaceful environment when a loud ringing noise emerges in your ear. You cannot ignore it. It distracts you, and deliberately focussing on it does not make it disappear…

Thankfully, I wear my hearing aids all day, which helpfully cut out tinnitus with background noise. However, that does not cure tinnitus, and some people still live with tinnitus in their daily lives.

Action on Hearing Loss have loads of useful information about tinnitus on their website. You can read more by clicking here.

Liam

Tinnitus: Why it’s never a silent world

So in a post a while back, I said I was deaf. I have inner ear deafness, but along with that, tinnitus – which I’m going to talk about today.

Tinnitus itself is a monotonous, high-pitched noise caused by the brain, but has links to hearing loss. It is currently incurable.

But this is the thing, tinnitus itself works in a way where peace and quiet (which is good when reading or trying to sleep, for example) is highly unlikely. Tinnitus often occurs (for me), when there is silence. Then, when I’m in the normal loud environment, there is noise. This is what I mean when I say for someone with tinnitus, there will always be noise in the world…

Liam