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Hearing loss…  July 31, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I know, I know, I’m always going on about this, but hearing is such a precious resource it seems crazed to damage it. 

Recently I was buying tickets for a gig and what came up but earphones as an additional extra. Sadly they were out of stock so I’ve had to source them elsewhere but I don’t go to gigs without them. I may have mentioned that the Robert Forster gig in Whelans was perfectly pitched, so much so that the pub after was probably louder. 

This piece in the Irish Times by Kevin Courtney gets to the heart of the problem. You go to a gig. You return home, your ears are ringing, so far so normal for many (I was always fairly careful and often wore earplugs). But then… 

…what if it’s still there the next day, and the next, and the next, and the rest of the year, often getting louder, sometimes getting softer, but never, ever completely disappearing? After a year or two of listening to this tuneless epic, the realisation dawns slowly that this maddening noise is never going to go away, so you may as well live with it, because the only alternative is to bang your head off the wall or poke your eardrums out with a drumstick.

Courtney himself has tinnitus and can’t quite place where and when it arrived (I can, Hermano, six or so years ago). For him it is pretty bad:

After years of reviewing rock gigs and albums, I now have a continuous ringing sound in my head, and if I was reviewing this particular tune, I’d give it zero stars. But what’s causing it? There’s no mini-Angus Young inside my ear, so how can I be hearing a sound that’s not there? Reassuringly, I’m not the only one hearing this annoying sound.

For others, including I guess myself, not quite so bad. It never goes away, but I have to consciously ‘listen’ out for it. 

“It’s a condition in which people have a sound in their head which doesn’t have an external cause,” says Jean Scott, chairwoman of the Irish Tinnitus Association, a support group for people living with tinnitus.

“They would hear many different kinds of noises – buzzing, whistling, roaring, rumbling – and some people sense these as very loud and others have it in the back of their head. But it’s the people who have it very loud who are really distressed by it.”

But even if it’s not in the foreground of my perception it is pretty invasive. There’s no such thing any longer as a genuinely quiet place. 

But I’m over 50, it’s the next tranche that is going to be an even bigger problem. I remember talking to a friend of mine in his early thirties, perhaps a decade ago who had worse tinnitus than I did. And there’ll be many more:

Brendan Conlon, the ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, says: “I think we’ll be looking at huge numbers with tinnitus over the next 10 or 15 years; the kids and adults going around with earphones stuck in their ears. It certainly isn’t something that’s going to go away.”

And the real problem is there’s no cure, it never goes away completely. Courtney ends on a note of hope, one can train oneself to stop it overwhelming one. Key thing is to minimise it, or not get it in the first place. 


1. Starkadder - July 31, 2016

Truth is, I hardly ever go to concerts because of my sensitive hearing. The last concert I was at was St. Vincent /Annie Clark
last year, and I deliberately picked a seat at the back. I did enjoy
the concert.


WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2016

It has changed my behaviour too, and in much the same way.


2. sonofstan - August 1, 2016

I may have mentioned this before, but I took part in some research into tinnitus a few years back, where a team out in Maynooth were testing a device that was supposed to ease the symptoms. There was a lot of science talk which I didn’t understand, but one thing I remember was that the research lead thought that tinnitus was actually something everyone had, but that certain conditions – possibly psychological rather than physiological? – uncovered it, as it were. I remember she cast doubt on the idea that it was directly consequent on hearing damage due to standing too close to loud drumkits as I had assumed. Anyway, experts, what do they know?


WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2016

Wow that’s interesting and I don’t recall you mentioning it before. I’ve always been curious at the way in which it can result from infections which suggests pretty complex and diverse mechanisms for triggering it. So the idea we all have it but it is submerged doesn’t seem entirely unlikely. Certainly focus is a big aspect for me. The other weirdness from that gig I went to is the range of my two ears are quite different. The easiest way I can tell this is listening on the telephone or mobile. Quite substantially different sounding depending on what ear I use.


sonofstan - August 1, 2016

One thing it was good for: my hearing was tested and, tinnitus aside, it is, or was then, pretty good considering. Tinnitus is not necessarily a symptom of damage.


WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2016

Ah, that’s even more interesting. Good to know. I’m afraid to take one of those tests on offer.


3. Tawdy - August 1, 2016

I have tinnitus for over 48 years or more. I have never ever gotten used to it. It increases or decrease in volume as it deems fit. It interferes in all manner of ways with my hearing, which is quite bad, I wear two hearing aids.

I find that the only thing than elope me to really relax from it is music, played at a specific level it drowns out the irritation of the tinitius.

It interferes in all aspects of my life, to the point that when I speak, I’m overly loud, I can’t whisper for the life of me and I seem to be very aggressive in my speech to others.

I deal with it as best I can. But, it is a constant torment


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

Very sorry to hear that Tawdy. I’ve read that too, that other sounds tend to mask it.


Liberius - August 2, 2016

Personally I find that heavy wind and rain sounds help, though I tend not to find my tinnitus distracting until I’m trying to sleep, and even then it’s only at its worst when I’m already struggling for that sleep.


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

Noise generators in rooms at night are meant to be okay. I don’t want to be intrusive but how did yours develop?


Liberius - August 2, 2016

Probably listening to music too loudly through earphones, I can’t exactly tell as I only really noticed one night when the radio was off and everything wasn’t silent, ten years ago now that was.


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

Again, sorry that’s happened to you. I went through a phase in the 2000s of using earphones a lot and I’m pretty sure that that helped lay the groundwork for the eventual arrival of it.


4. myhearinglossstory - March 10, 2017

Hello. Thank you for sharing your interesting post on tinnitus. 6 months ago i experienced sudden hearing loss in my left ear (no known cause, although still trying to get answers), which has left me deaf in this ear. along with the deafness and other issues, I also have tinnitus. Like you, I am managing not to focus on this too much, apart from when i am in a quiet room – then i can hear it loudly! You are right – ‘There’s no such thing any longer as a genuinely quiet place.’ Take care, and I look forward to reading your future blog posts. Carly


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