Tinnitus – Helen’s story
As part of Tinnitus Awareness Week one former sufferer of the condition shared their experience with Dove Hearing Centres. Here, Helen Gildersleeve tells us what it was like for her:
“I briefly suffered with tinnitus in my twenties and thirties and despite only experiencing temporary episodes, I recall the frustration clearly.
“I’ve had hearing problems since I was a toddler and underwent an operation aged four on my ear drum where a grommet was inserted to help my hearing. It worked really well and I barely suffered since but experienced several brief encounters with tinnitus as I got older. A condition often deemed quite minor with people saying things like “Well it’s hardly life threatening, is it?”
“Well, no, it isn’t, but this doesn’t stop it being horrendous for the sufferer. I remember lying awake one night in tears before an important exam unable to sleep due to the persistent ringing in my ears that can only be described as an internal car alarm going off. It is literally impossible to sleep with tinnitus and the persistent ringing is impossible to ignore because it’s inside your own head and has no ‘off’ switch.
“Another time was when I was driving on a long journey from London to Newcastle upon Tyne and the ringing got so bad I ended up getting a severe headache (probably from squinting and frowning from the annoyance). I had to stop and take a long break as it was making driving difficult. It’s not even like you can simply turn the radio up and drown it out either.
“It’s easy to see why it is actually a serious condition because sleep deprivation can cause a whole host of other problems and health issues. It’s slightly easier to ignore it during the day when there’s other noises occurring but at night when you need to sleep, is when it is at its worst. People who suffer regularly have my utmost sympathy.
“I was lucky that my suffering was only short-lived with each episode lasting around a week. I did see a doctor the last time I had it but he was unsure of the cause and put it down to a change in blood pressure and a hectic lifestyle. Another time I ended up having ear wax removal and the ringing stopped immediately. It seems there’s no single cause of tinnitus adding to the frustration of the condition but I would recommend anybody to see their GP if they think they have it.
“It’s a condition I can deem best as insidious and one that people should never belittle or view as insignificant.”