What is Tinnitus, and Why Does it Cause so Much Despair for Sufferers?
Tinnitus, a condition which can cause constant ringing in the ears, can leave sufferers experiencing acute despair. With the tragic news recently that a father had been driven to suicide by the condition, we're looking at what tinnitus is, and why it can be a condition that causes so much distress for sufferers.
What is Tinnitus?
Around 10% of the population have mild tinnitus
, and half of these people find it moderately or severely distressing. The NHS website describes tinnitus as "ringing in the ears"
, but say it can also encompass sounds including buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing or whistling. You may well have experienced this short term after being exposed to loud noises, for example if you've been to a loud concert.
It can be brought on by loud noise
, hearing loss
, stress and anxiety
and ear infections
, but the full causes aren't yet fully understood.
Debilitating Effects of Tinnitus
Severe tinnitus can cause huge amounts of distress for sufferers. According to the NHS website, around 600,000 experience tinnitus at a level that affects their everyday lives
Recently, Mr James Ivor Jones killed himself after being "driven mad"
by tinnitus and hyperacusis (extreme sensitivity to sounds). His son, Mr Danny Jones, said that he'd find "even the noise of somebody stirring their tea unbearable."
Danny has now set up a Just Giving page to raise money for the British Tinnitus Association.
Even sufferers with a mild level of tinnitus have their everyday lives affected. An article in The Guardian by Andy Purnell sees him explaining how it interferes with his life; "Even my mild case demonstrates the impact on sufferers; not a day passes during which I do not worry about my hearing."
Even though Andy, a DJ, religiously uses ear protection whilst working, he accepts that he "will never be able to repair the damage that's been done. In fact, if I continue to DJ, my condition will deteriorate: I find this terrifying."
Damage to Hearing at Work
Often, our clients who have experienced hearing loss because of their occupation
also experience accompanying tinnitus.
Some occupations that involve noisy environments and could put you at risk of tinnitus include factory work, engineering, bar or nightclub work or even a call centre. Employers in noisy working environments must take steps to protect employees
from hearing damage by providing safety equipment such as noise cancelling headphones.If your employer hasn't done this and you've been harmed, they could be held to account.