“My tinnitus diagnosis has been devastating”

Annette was formally diagnosed with tinnitus on 5 January 2024. She spoke to us about her journey.

Annette spoke to us about her recent tinnitus diagnosis:

Portrait image of Annette. A woman in her 60's with blonde hair styled in a bob wearing glasses. She has blue eyes and is weating a red top with a white flower pattern on it.

“Looking back, I realise I’ve had tinnitus for about four years. I think that stress has caused it. For a long time, I assumed that the noise I could hear was an aircon unit on a nearby building. It wasn’t until I moved and could still hear the noise that my son suggested I should have a hearing test.

I had a hearing test at Specsavers and the audiologist asked me if I heard the noise in my left or right ear. When I couldn’t answer, he asked if I thought the noise might be in my head – his insight finally nailed it. I then visited my GP who thought that I had some fluid on my ear. I returned a month later for a follow up appointment and we concluded that there was no fluid so I was referred to audiology.

I didn’t receive any further advice from my GP but my appointment letter for audiology was accompanied by information. I chose not to look at that before receiving a formal diagnosis. I’ll never forget the date, 5 January 2024, because my tinnitus diagnosis has been devastating. I know that will never go away and the constant drone drives me mad. I’ve taken this diagnosis worse than anything I’ve ever been told, and I’ve previously had a cancer diagnosis. There’s no cure for tinnitus so I feel hopeless at times.

For me the worst part of tinnitus is the sleep deprivation. I’ve experienced poor quality of sleep for the last ten years. Before, I would wake in the night but, crucially, I could always get to sleep. Now, the constant drone of my tinnitus makes getting to sleep a daily struggle and this makes everything feel worse.

I have typical hearing loss for a woman of my age but the drone of my tinnitus means that I struggle in noisy environments. I also can’t really hear conversations when I’m travelling in a car.  I generally understand the gist of social conversations and have learned to lip read but I can miss a lot of detail.

I have a follow-up audiology appointment on the telephone soon. This is to see how I am doing and how I’ve got on reading all information they sent me. If I’m honest, it is all very overwhelming. I’ve been advised to try a white noise app, background noise as well as relaxation and breathing exercises. I was offered CBT. I’ve had this in the past and know the techniques so I just need to use the coping strategies I already have and to be more accepting of where I am now.”