COLUMN: Tinnitus - let's all make some noise about it!
It would be borderline bad taste to say I'd never heard of tinnitus before my diagnosis.
But the fact I genuinely hadn’t highlights, not only my lack of knowledge about the ailment, but society’s ignorance in general.
Such collective cluelessness – Kryptonite to British Tinnitus Association – calls loud and clear for increased awareness of this distressing and debilitating condition affecting around five million of us Brits.
It is scant consolation this music lover’s condition is shared by musical luminaries, my case study echoed by likes of Plan B to Jazzie B, Gary Numan to Chris Martin.
Plan B: “When I first developed tinnitus, I thought it was trains rushing by my house as I live near a railway line. It was really loud”.
Initial prognosis by Dr Google – modern medic to the masses, online health self-detection blessing and curse alike, itself increasing cause of cyberchondria – was confirmed by ENT specialists’ second opinion after exhaustive hearing tests.
Too many gigs, too keen to get too close to “pump up the volume” stage amps, are likely to blame for background white noise.
Jazzie B: “So many musicians have suffered from tinnitus or hearing loss because they weren’t educated about the dangers of listening to loud music and wearing earplugs”.
Muffled by audible diversions of the day, this phantom soundtrack is most acute amid silence surrounding head hitting pillow.
Half-sleep awakening is subject to same fuzzy soundscape, mercifully soon drowned out by dawn chorus and assorted such similar distractions to the ear.
Gary Numan: “This is a message for people who listen to live music to look after your ears. It’s advice that I wish I’d had, as I wouldn’t be in a position I am now. I didn’t look after my ears and I’m in trouble”.
I’m among fortunate sufferers. While I can flippantly quip “at least it drowns out voices in my head,” the complaint – complete with cacophony of clicking, hissing, ringing and roaring – is no laughing matter for most.
Sadly, so many sufferers are driven to distraction, some tragically to suicide, so unbearably incessant is constant buzz blighting their lives.
Chris Martin: “Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem”.
For that reason, and for them, an awareness week annually champions ‘Together for Tinnitus’ campaign to (excuse misnomer) increase visibility, generate discussion and spotlight patient self-help support.
But, don’t hesitate and wait until February. If you’re a worried would-be victim, access now www.takeontinnitus.co.uk resources that also help educate GPs about available new guidelines.
And, with annual half a million quid required to continue BTA’s sterling work, donations to www.justgiving.com/BTA are always welcome.
So, listen up Yorkshire ... let’s all make some noise about tinnitus!