Learning to live in peace
Mark shares his experience of developing tinnitus through noise exposure
In June I will be 66 years old, and I feel that for certain I damaged my ears from my late teens and early adulthood.
I have played drums and percussion instruments from the age of 10 years old, and not knowing the dangers of hearing loss and tinnitus back in those times, I am sure I started the damage back then. I also attended many loud rock gigs, the loudest being Grand Funk Railroad, at the then Wembley Empire Arena in 1975. I remember that gig well, as my ears were numb, ringing, and when I started the motor of my old Ford Anglia, I could not hear the engine!
When I was at university, to help pay my way, I also took a temporary job with Ready Mixed Concrete. The job was to repair the rusted conveyer belts by blasting the steel structure with impact drills. No ear defenders were provided and I recall that after every two to three hours session, my ears would ring.
During my forties I noticed that I had very mild tinnitus, a slight ringing in my left ear, but nothing to really bother me too much. The problem truly arose 13 years ago when I was out walking in Beijing, when a close-by cement truck exploded. The noise was like a bomb going off and was so loud that I could not hear properly for a few days. When my hearing recovered, I was left with loud ringing, especially in my left ear. Since then, I have truly suffered with tinnitus, with spikes, when it is quite bad. This has been made worse when have periods suffering from eustachian tube dysfunction.
I have learnt over the years to cope with tinnitus, knowing that there is no cure. I have also learnt that my tinnitus becomes worse when experiencing stressful times and situations. I always try to keep calm, peaceful and above all, fit and healthy, by eating the right foods and taking exercise. I find this helps considerably ease my tinnitus. I have never been a big alcohol drinker, but I found that when I did it, my tinnitus seemed to spike, so I cut out alcoholic drinks altogether and I feel better for this.
I still play the drums, as this is a passion and love of mine, but I do so with care, wearing ear protection. I always carry ear plugs / protection with me. If I travel on the London Underground, I will wear ear plugs, to cut out the screeching sound of the wheels on the track. When I use the vacuum cleaner or lawn mower at home, I will wear ear plugs.
Learning to live in peace with tinnitus is key, and I feel that I have managed to do this. I only wish that back in the 60’s and 70’s, I knew about tinnitus and the dangers of not looking after your hearing.