A better future for tinnitus sufferers

FOR ten long years Graham Jensen has been forced to put up with a whistling sound buzzing almost constantly in his ear.Today the tinnitus-sufferer is urging people who suspect they may have the condition too to get help to take control over their lives.

Rebecca Lefort

FOR ten long years Graham Jensen has been forced to put up with a whistling sound buzzing almost constantly in his ear.

Today the tinnitus-sufferer is urging people who suspect they may have the condition too to get help to take control over their lives.

Mr Jensen, 64, of Battisford, near Stowmarket, is so keen on helping people deal with tinnitus, a condition which leaves people with noises in the ears or in the head but with no external source, that he is now chair of the Suffolk Tinnitus Support Group.

Mr Jensen said: “I don't remember exactly when I first got it. It was just there.

“My brother had it and I didn't know what it was, then when he explained it realised I had it!

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“For me it is a whistling sound which isn't that bad.

“For one lady in the group she has the sound of starlings in one ear and the sound of tyres on a high-speed road in the other.

“No two people have exactly the same sound and for some people it is so bad it can make them suicidal.

“A lot of people are also very frightened by it and it does rule their lives.”

But Mr Jensen said he had managed to avoid the condition ruining his life and had now found a way to live with it day-to-day.

He said: “I can switch it off during my working day. It sounds funny that I can do that but if I'm concentrating on my work it's okay.

“If you're living near a main road you don't moan about the traffic because you get used to it. It is about changing your attitude towards the noise.

“I've always worked with noise - I'm a carpenter - and that actually helps me because it drowns out the tinnitus.

“I'm not sure how I got it; clips round the ear when I was younger probably didn't help.

“I'm worried about the younger generation because some of them do listen to very loud music and that could affect them.”

For more information about the Suffolk Tinnitus Support Group, which meets on the second Friday of every month, call Graham Jensen 01449 720386.

Has tinnitus ruined your life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus noises are described variously as ringing, whistling, buzzing and humming.

The noise may be heard in one ear, both ears or in the middle of the head or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location.

The noise may be low, medium or high-pitched, there may be a single noise or two or more components, the noise may be continuous or it may come and go.

The precise cause of tinnitus is still not fully understood but is usually associated with some hearing deficits.

Mild tinnitus is common, about 10per cent of the population have it all the time and in up to 1pc of adults this may affect the quality of their life.

SOURCE: British Tinnitus Association

Expert's view

Karen Finch, managing director of the Hearing Care Centre, said: “Tinnitus is a condition where noises are heard in the ears or in the head.

“Most people will experience some buzzing or ringing in the ears, especially after exposure to loud noise. Although this is a temporary problem for most people, for more than four million people in the UK these noises can be severe and permanent.

“The way people perceive tinnitus varies enormously - from just one sound to a mixture of whistling, ringing, buzzing and rushing sounds.

“The noises that are heard are not fully understood but are generally considered to be the noises of the internal workings of the ear and the nearby arteries and veins.

“Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease and there can be many different causes. It can be linked to exposure to loud noise, hearing loss, ear or head injuries, some diseases of the ear and some ear infections, or it can be a side effect of some medication. It may be a combination of all or some of these or a person may never have any of these conditions.

“Anyone who starts to get tinnitus or suspects their hearing is damaged should make an appointment to see their family doctor immediately.”

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