I have tinnitus and haven’t heard silence for over a year
Don’t be a mug, get some plugs
The classic ritual, a weary student stumbles into bed after a heavy night out. The room is spinning and a ringing sound fills your head as you drift off into a deep sleep.
This phantom noise is called Tinnitus and it can become a problem for any clubber. For the vast majority of us the ringing simply disappears the next day. We think nothing of it, it’s simply a by-product of a great night.
This ringing is a sign of hearing loss. The high pitched ring in your ear is actually a frequency you will never hear again. But for the unlucky few it never goes away.
For the past year I haven’t heard the sound of silence. In its place a high piercing ringing or buzzing sound.
Imagine listening to something like this all the time – skip to 1:46 for something similar to mine.
It’s hard to say when it first started, but I’m fairly sure that the years of battering I’d subjected my poor ears to definitely played a part.
It started around February last year when I suffered a rather nasty bout of tonsillitis. During the course of the illness I began to notice a ringing sound in my right ear. I remember hysterically ringing my mother, asking what was going on, she assured me that it was just a side effect of the antibiotics.
Unfortunately, the ringing didn’t go away. In fact, it’s a year and five days since I first noticed it. I’d absolutely fucked it, I’d somehow developed tinnitus.
It was a crushing blow for me, as I have always loved loud music, in particular house. I experienced a lot of anxiety as a result – sadness and regret became part of my daily routine.
I had always toyed with the idea of protecting my ears, realising that my hearing was slowly deteriorating. Unfortunately I left it too late. As irrational as it sounds I actually thought I was going to have to live as a hermit, spending the rest of my days in some dark hole, cradling my broken lugs.
I say this now with complete sincerity… I wish I’d done something sooner. As the cruel irony of hearing damage, prevention is the only cure, with the majority of people only finding out after its too late.
The human ear is made up of thousands of tiny hairs that vibrate at a certain frequency, allowing us to perceive sound. Essentially when we listen to overly loud music these tiny hairs are overstimulated and as a result die. Unfortunately these hairs don’t grow back. Hearing loss is permanent.
Whilst there is currently no cure for this condition, I remain hopeful that there will be some day. Recently, “Action On Hearing Loss” have funded £500,000 to Newcastle University to help find a cure for the millions of people in the UK suffering from this. However, I place my doubts on a solution being found. I believe it will inevitably take another 20 years for a “magic pill” to be synthesised.
Moaning aside, on a positive note I can tell you right now that life is exactly same as it was before I had tinnitus. I still go out and do everything that I did before, I just have to be careful. And yes, this means I wear ear plugs in any loud environment. In fact I actually carry a pair around with me wherever I go. Lame right, but better than it getting any worse.
Sure I can say that my tinnitus has got louder over this past year, and it may continue to, I just don’t know. But it doesn’t really bother me at all anymore. It could be so much worse, as I’ve read horror stories of people who’ve committed suicide to escape the condition. As mad as this sounds I can genuinely empathise with these people, because believe me, it really has the capacity to send you into a depression if you let it.
A pair of decent, discreet ear plugs will cost as little as £10, which actually just filter out the harmful frequencies, leaving the music loud but not deafening.
As far as the stigma associated with wearing them in clubs is concerned. I can say that I think in about a whole year of wearing them every single night I’ve been out clubbing, only about four people have mentioned it to me.
Buy a pair now, it’s a tiny investment to keep your hearing (and sanity!) for years to come.
The sad truth of tinnitus is that its 100% avoidable if you look after your ears. You might not care right now, but believe me, you will thank me later. It’s too late for me, but you can still do something about it.