Tinnitus – Where’s the buzz

Til' Deaf

Last week was National Tinnitus week but I didn’t hear above the noise.  Yes I have – thankfully very mild – tinnitus (from the Latin “tinnire” to ring) the sound guy’s affliction.  What does it sound like? – a babbling brook to me, the gentle hiss of AM radio between records.  It could be much more distressing some examples are HERE! It gradually crept up on me and is probably down to lax ear protection on a few fateful occasions (a hellish pub jam louder than war in an untreated space a few years back maybe).

Although tinnitus has a physical symptom of flattened receptors in the inner ear, it is at least partly psychological.  All sound is changes in air pressure and our brains translate this into a recognisable one of the five senses.  Tinnitus is when hearing damage is translated into an abstract sound that at its most punitive can drive some unfortunate victims almost mad.  Some treatments are designed to tune the sound out or down, to train the brain to stop awarding this vibration an access all areas pass.  Mine only advances to the foreground in relatively quiet surroundings  and alcohol does make it louder its true.  Sometimes I listen to a thousand running taps in the small hours and wonder if it will get worse but mostly I have learned to live with it.  I now wear proper earplugs at gigs  and monitor in the studio at a moderate level, fleeing when someone reaches for the gain control on their Marshall stack.  I have come to appreciate just how loud loud is as I now live in a volume controlled world.  If you have it and are worried check out the British Tinnitus Association website for lots of info and advice.  You can get your GP to refer you to a specialist if it becomes disruptive to you concentration and well-being.

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