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      Tinnitus Week - Briege's story

      Briege McCann is a volunteer for Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland. Here, she tells us about her experience of tinnitus and the support she has received.

      When did you first start experiencing tinnitus? 

      I first experienced tinnitus due to a head injury at work 19 years ago when a box fell on my head. 

      What does your tinnitus sound like? 

      My tinnitus sounds like an airplane jet engine, it can get louder when I'm stressed as I have a continuing chronic condition. It can reach another level where I can hear very rapid ringing and I feel an explosion-like vibration in my head. I would fall over to my side when I'm sitting or standing, or at night time in bed I feel my head bounce off the pillow. It can be frightening. 

      What support have you received for your tinnitus? 

      19 years ago, my GP referred me to ENT to get my tinnitus checked out. I was told by a consultant that there was no cure. I went to the Audiology to get my hearing aid modified to try to mask the tinnitus, and I was told I had to deal with my condition, which was frustrating for me. 

      What effect does tinnitus have on your daily life? 

      Disrupted sleep, concentration difficulties, mental stress, it can leave you tired and frustrated. 

      Are there any techniques and therapies you have tried that minimise the effects of tinnitus? 

      I have tried complementary therapies, acupuncture, aromatherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. These techniques can alleviate the stress but do not cure the tinnitus.  

      At night, I try to wind down before bedtime, have a warm milky drink, and read a book. I watch TV with subtitles or listen to relaxing music to help me get ready for sleep. 

      What would you say to anyone else who is experiencing the noise of tinnitus? 

      My advice to anyone who is experiencing tinnitus: Don't suffer in silence; there is support available - from healthcare professionals, tinnitus therapists, Action on Hearing Loss, and tinnitus support groups. Speak to your GP about a getting a referral to your audiology department and counselling.

       Tell us a bit about your role as a volunteer for Action on Hearing Loss 

      I first heard of Action on Hearing Loss through my social worker, and was referred to Christine Martin for tinnitus therapy. She has given me tremendous support. When she told me about her experiences with her tinnitus, I felt I wanted to give something back. When Action on Hearing Loss visited my local Deaf Club for a talk about the service they provide to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, an opportunity arose for volunteering. I went for my training for the Hearing Aid User Support service and the Befriending service which I am passionate about. I was born deaf and wear a hearing aid so I have the knowledge to give advice to people who are struggling with their hearing aids. At the end of the day it makes me smile when I make someone’s day, it's a very rewarding role.