Did you know 1 in 3 people get tinnitus at some point in their lives and around 1 in 10 UK adults have tinnitus that doesn’t go away. UVEX SAFETY (UK) LTD’s National Sales Manager Carl Dwyer suffers from tinnitus. It affects his day to day life, but he has found ways to help his condition. Here he explains what it is like living with tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds in one ear, both ears or in the head that are not from an external source. The types of sounds people hear vary greatly, with some people describing it as a ringing in the ears, others hear a hissing, buzzing or whooshing noise. These sounds can come and go, or they can exist all the time.

What causes tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is not yet known, but it can be linked to a number of things, including hearing loss. Damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear, either through normal ageing or from exposure to loud noises, can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus. One in three people get tinnitus at some point in their lives, while around one in ten UK adults have tinnitus that doesn’t go away.

What is it like living with tinnitus?

UVEX SAFETY (UK) LTD’s National Sales Manager Carl Dwyer suffers from tinnitus. It affects his day to day life, but he has found ways to help his condition and come to terms with it.

Here he explains what it is like living with tinnitus:

My Tinnitus is a constant buzzing sound. It never goes away and becomes much worse when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or in and around noisy environments.

 

This is how I changed my everyday life because of tinnitus:

To help combat this, I’m trying hard to work on the following points – but this is not always easy due to lifestyle or work constraints.

1. Adding background Noise as a distraction

Adding more noise may seem counterintuitive but being in a quiet environment means you’re likely to focus on your tinnitus sounds. Adding in some background noise like soft music or nature sounds helps to distract me from the buzzing.

2. Relaxing and more quiet moments

I’ve noticed that stress makes my tinnitus worse. Not that I’m the kind of person to meditate, but quiet moments do help; locked away in a dark room works. I also find that walking the dog or keeping my mind active can help alleviate the stress and tension caused by tinnitus.

3. Healthy Diet

Not the easiest I must say, but I’ve reduced both caffeine and alcohol as studies suggest that this can have a negative effect on your tinnitus.

4. Exercise to reduce stress and increase blood circulation

Finding the time to work out isn’t easy in my role- so finding that balance I know will help reduce stress as well as increase blood circulation. This I’m told is beneficial since some cases of tinnitus are associated with low blood supply to the inner ear.

5. Use of Hearing Protection

Loud environments are a contributing factor as to why I have this condition. These environments are not easy to avoid on a day to day basis. My levels of fatigue and tiredness have increased enormously since having the condition and it’s normal for me to be in bed very early due to the increased pressures this brings. The use of hearing protection (earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones) does help.

My best advice: Protect your hearing

Frequent, prolonged exposure to loud noise increases the risk of getting tinnitus.

The length of time you can safely be exposed to sound over 85 dB without needing hearing protection depends on the intensity of the sound. The energy the sound waves carries doubles with every increase of 3 dB, so even though a bulldozer doesn’t sound twice as loud as city traffic, it is twice as intense.

With each increase of 3 dB, the length of safe exposure time halves. For sounds above 100 dB (a nightclub for example) you’re at risk of hearing damage after just 15 minutes!

If you work somewhere where the noise levels exceed 80 dB, the law states hearing protection should be provided and staff must be trained and educated in the risks associated with noisy environments.

However, in social environments there are no rules and no protection is provided so it is up to the individual to protect themselves.

When we consider the noise levels of a rock concert, which can be as much as 110 dB, not wearing hearing protection means you are putting your hearing at great risk.

It is important to remember that hearing damage cannot be reversed. Protect your hearing by reducing the time you’re exposed to loud noise or by using earplugs or ear defenders.

Hearing protection from uvex - additional information

The tricky thing is that noise damages hearing gradually and painlessly. This is why we develop hearing protection for all situations and all noise levels, with speech and signal perception still possible. But how do you find out which is the right hearing protection for you?

Hearing protection guide

The uvex hearing protection guide summarises everything you need to know about the subject and helps you to find relevant uvex hearing protection products.

TO HEARING PROTECTION GUIDE (PDF)