GP Taylor: Tinnitus – a life sentence and a curse thta takes away the joys of life

Tinnitus has a major effect on many sufferers.
Tinnitus has a major effect on many sufferers.
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IT was a warm night in summer and a gang of drunks that changed my life forever. That and a brick in a handbag smashed against the side of my head.

From then on, I have had a loud, painful buzzing in my ears. It varies in pitch and volume, but it is always there. Night and day. Waking and sleeping. That’s if I am lucky to be able to sleep.

For the last 23 years I have tried drugs, drink, meditation, prayer and soft music to stop the noise so I can slip into the night in silence.

None of them have worked.

Sometimes, the sound is so loud that I lay in bed wondering if life is worth it.

The constant noise takes away all the joy from everyday situations.

Conversations are half heard.

Films, music and television is a constant strain.

The volume on the remote control is often pressed again and again in the hope it will drown out the noise in my head, but it never does.

It is a life sentence from which there will be no release and no escape.

Tinnitus is not just a ringing in the ears, it is a curse.

When I was younger, I took my hearing for granted.

I would love to find a quiet place and sit in perfect silence.

I thought that I would always be able to experience that pleasure.

It never crossed my mind that one day my head would be filled with noise that I was unable to control.

Specialists in this area have told me there is no cure.

Brain scans and hearing tests have been unable to reveal any underlying issues other than trauma injury.

I am just one of the unlucky ones. One in 10 unlucky ones, part of the 11 million people in this country with hearing problems.

It is a condition that 30 per cent will experience at some point in their lives. There are at least 750,000 tinnitus-related GP consultations every year.

And for a growing number, it is an illness that is sometimes fatal.

A quick search of the internet will bring up the very tragic stories of suffers young and old who without any mental health problems have taken their lives due to tinnitus.

Musicians, computer programmers and firemen are among those who have ended their lives because they could no longer cope with the noise in their heads.

Very simply, the torture of this condition drove them to suicide.

Reading their stories is heart-breaking, learning of normal lives that have been destroyed within weeks of diagnosis.

One man had taken his own life with 12 weeks of being told he had the condition.

An electrical engineer ended his life and left a note which simply said: “The noise got too loud, sorry.”

Imagine, having a sound in your head getting louder and louder that you cannot control or stop.

If you suffer from tinnitus, you may be able to sympathise with this.

Tinnitus brings with it sleep deprivation, exhaustion, depression and anxiety.

It destroys concentration and can so easily lead to being unable to work.

But tinnitus is a hidden disability.

Everything looks well on the outside, but inside your head feels as if it will explode with sound.

If you have never experienced tinnitus it is hard to understand how the condition can consume your whole life.

Yet, with the growing noise that accompanies our modern lifestyles almost everywhere we go, it is an increasing problem.

Over-exposure to loud noise, some medications and health conditions can cause tinnitus and it is always best to consult a medical professional if you have started with symptoms.

However, I cannot understand why there is still no cure?

If an illness is stopping people from working and, in some cases, killing themselves, then surely it is worth the Government investing significant amounts of money to investigate a cure?

The British Tinnitus Association recently spent over £500,000 to study the condition but that is a drop in the ocean in comparison to money spent on other illnesses.

Sufferers need more than just being offered anti-depressants and counselling, they need a cure.

Hearing loss isn’t a trendy cause. It is a hidden disability that can strike anyone at any time.

Celebrities such as Will.I.Am, Coldplay singer Chris Martin and television presenter Susanna Reid are all sufferers of tinnitus.

Like me, they face the daily battle against the sounds inside their heads wondering if it will ever be won, wondering if a cure is around the corner, wondering if they will ever again hear the sound of silence.

Contact the British Tinnitus Association by calling 0800 018 0527 or emailing helpline@tinnitus.org.uk.

GP Taylor is an author and writer from North Yorkshire.