Normally described as a ringing, whooshing or hissing in the ears, tinnitus is often triggered after being exposed to loud noises like music. One in ten people in the UK have experienced it at least once, but for around 10% of the population the persistent sound never goes away.
Despite the earliest reference of the condition stemming as far back as Ancient Egypt, scientists are still baffled as to why the brain creates this repetitive sound. To help spread awareness of the condition and encourage people to protect their hearing, Action on Hearing Loss is asking people on social media to describe what their tinnitus sounds like and explain how it affects them using the hashtag #ThisIsTinnitus.
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at Action on Hearing Loss said: “Tinnitus can be an isolating experience that leaves people feeling helpless. By encouraging others to take part in the campaign we hope more will share their experiences to shed light on this misunderstood condition and show how it affects them. Celebrities Phillip Schofield, Susanna Reid and Will.i.am have in the past opened up about their ongoing struggles with tinnitus, and this year musician KT Tunstall is helping the charity with #ThisIsTinnitus by sharing her own video.”
One of the people taking part in our campaign is Jessica Berg, 31, who has been living with tinnitus for 2 and a half years. Although she has found a way to manage the condition, her journey is an ongoing one.
She said: “One morning I woke up with a high-pitched noise in my head. I didn’t know where it came from, there was no big moment, no loud bang, not even a big night out the night before, but two weeks down the line it had not stopped. My local GP sent me to an audiology clinic and the doctor concluded that my tinnitus was most likely to have been caused by exposure to loud music over a period of years.
“I’m a bit of a rock chick and I love going to gigs and listening to loud music. But in my defence, I had never even heard of tinnitus and certainly had never been advised to wear ear protection in loud places, and neither had anyone else I knew.
“I started suffering with depression, feeling anxious in crowds, and my self-worth took a nose dive. Tinnitus was fighting me on all fronts, making everything I used to do feel impossible.
“Life changed for me when I agreed to go on a trip with my friends. I almost didn’t go – but my friends are very persuasive, so reluctantly, I agreed to join them. The trip flipped everything back around. Although I still had some difficult days and sleepless nights, I also remembered what life was all about: having fun with my friends, meeting amazing new people and witnessing breath-taking scenery. As my self-esteem started to grow again, I realised I had let tinnitus take over my life but knew I couldn’t let it any longer.”
Jess who is also fronting the charity’s #DontLoseTheMusic campaign, urging people to wear ear plugs when in noisy venues, added: “I now make sure I take care of my mental health as well as physically protecting my ears from getting worse by using ear plugs.”
If you want to share your experiences of living with tinnitus, make a short video clip and post it on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ThisIsTinnitus and help make a difference.
But the charity does not want to stop there, to help fight what can be for some a debilitating condition Action on Hearing Loss is also currently funding several research projects to try and understand why we hear tinnitus, how it develops in the brain, and its relationship with stress – in the hope it will eventually lead to a cure.
If you think you have tinnitus, the first step is to see your GP. They will check your ears and refer you to a specialist for tests and support if needed.
For more information and tips on how to manage it visit: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/hearing-health/tinnitus/tinnitus-week-2019/
If you would like more information on the topic, please contact Simon Robb at Action on Hearing Loss on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 227 6164. Spokespeople are also available upon request.
Note to editors:
Action on Hearing Loss helps people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. We enable them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way.
• Listen to this stimulation to hear what tinnitus sounds like: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/hearing-health/tinnitus/
• For more information and support, visit our Tinnitus forum, download our free tinnitus factsheets or contact our Tinnitus Helpline using this link https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/hearing-health/tinnitus/
• Action on Hearing Loss is funding a number of research projects into tinnitus. Currently there is no ‘biomarker’ to visually see tinnitus, so to try and overcome this one study, led by Dr Will Sedley, is looking to create a convenient, accurate and objective test for tinnitus. In another study, Dr Linus Milinski is looking to understand the link between brain activity and tinnitus during waking and sleep, and track how our brain activity rewires as tinnitus develops.
• For further information about Action on Hearing Loss or to become a member, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk, contact the Action on Hearing Loss Information Line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email: email@example.com