Monday, 21 June 2010

Living with tinnitus - my story

I have two serious conditions, which thankfully don’t manifest any symptoms. For about 20 years I’ve been taking eye drops to counteract my glaucoma and for half that time I’ve had diabetes which to date is successfully being kept in check by diet.
In sharp contrast I have one ailment which is all symptoms but contains no serious threat yet was harder to adjust to – tinnitus.
A hearing specialist diagnosed it more than a decade ago. The ringing in my ears can best be described as a distant jet preparing for takeoff. I know from my reading that tinnitus can drive some sufferers to distraction.
I tried a few suggested 'remedies' to no benefit. Over the years I established to my own satisfaction that my tinnitus wasn’t related to any medication I might be taking such as statins nor did caffeine or salt-controlled diets have any effect.
I had to face the fact I had inherited the tinnitus that my late mother had complained of many years before.
I’m not one to take health conditions lightly – and certainly not when I was still covered by an employee private health scheme. For example, a swollen little toe – I can’t remember which one – prompted me to employ every test known to medical science without ever establishing a cause.
Fortunately I must have read something somewhere that encouraged me to take a daily 1,000mg cod liver oil capsule. Within days the toe pain responded and eventually disappeared.
To prove the point I stopped taking the cod liver oil and the swelling returned – so now the capsule is the one food supplement I take.
I’ve told the toe story perhaps to help someone with the same condition but also to illustrate that I’m not passive by nature when it comes to illness.
But there is something about my tinnitus that has prompted a stoical response that surprised myself. It hasn’t always been so. In the early days the noise was intermittent. I would wake and whether I had a good or bad day would be dictated by whether my tinnitus was present.
I couldn’t enjoy the days when it was absent because I was constantly listening for its return. It was only when the ringing was constant that I began to come to terms with the condition.
Some days it is too loud to ignore and very occasionally disturbs my sleep. But for the most part it is only there when I listen for it.
In other words my brain has been taught by my conscious will to ignore the tinnitus when it can. When it can’t it has to focus on simple equations – how much better it is to suffer from a ringing in the ears than painful, life-threatening diseases that trouble other folk.
This was not an easy process. At first it was difficult to accept the specialist’s advice that as there was no cure, I’d best learn to live with the condition. It took time but I did.


  1. Ill try also but it'very difficult I have medecine for ear (menieres dieseses since 5 years) impossible to hold prothese because the tinitus is to strong ,I have a masker .....
    Best regards
    a french man.

  2. Dear Dominique,
    I'm sorry to learn of your tinnitus. My noise does seem to be getting louder. But I'm still managing to live with the condition. One reason is that I have body aches and pains, which are more restricting than my tinnitus.
    Bon chance. GC


What do you think? GC