Saturday, 14 January 2012


For two or three weeks I've had a constant noise in both ears. This condition is called tinnitus, and it causes the ears to 'hear' all kinds of self-generated noise: clicks, drumming, high-pitched tones, whistles, and so on; but the sound in my own ears resembles the faint whooshing noise water makes when it's being pumped through your central-heating pipes at home. A sort of hiss. And indeed, you think of hot blood hissing as it's pumped through your head!

It's always audible at home because I live on a quiet road in a quiet village, and complete double-glazing ensures that sounds from outside the house are much subdued. Inside all is quite hushed, so that you can easily hear every little noise that a house can make. The ticking of clocks, the combustion of gas in the oven and boiler, the groaning of ice in the freezer, as well as sundry creaks at night as the house cools down. Sometimes, in the darkness of night, these ticks and creaks can seem quite creepy! But mostly I like to hear them. These little sounds remind me that my home is a dynamic mechanism, and they make it seem alive. Quite different from the desolate silence of a ruin.

The point I'm making is that I enjoy a quiet home environment, and that I'm not deaf, because I can hear a pin drop.

Nor do I like to assault my ears. I don't have a radio or TV on just for company. I don't play music much, and never loudly. I like peace and quiet. And although Fiona has a diesel engine, she also has good sound insulation, and is another hushed environment. By far the loudest sound I ever normally hear is from a smoke alarm, if I ever trigger it with burnt toast. So here's another point: I haven't been damaging my ears with excessive exposure to noise.

I decided it would be wise to get a doctor's opinion, and so two days ago I rang the surgery and got an appointment that afternoon with one of the doctors. The doctor examined my ears, but found nothing visibly wrong, and we established that there was nothing in my lifestyle or medication that would induce tinnitus. He told me it shouldn't get worse, but in the absence of an obvious cause there was nothing he could prescribe to alleviate my condition. He did suggest that I contrive some background sound to mask this faint hiss in my ears. It was a trick that sometimes helped. No good at night, of course, when you want to sleep!

I'm hoping that my tinnitus is temporary and will just fade away. Meanwhile, I'll be very careful about exposure to loud noises. So please don't sing or shout in my ears. No banana-boat songs. It's too piercing.


  1. After a gig my ears ring and hiss for days. I assume as a dj my hearing will be damaged forever. One of the negatives about being passionate about music I suppose.

    Hopefully yours will get better. :)

  2. Snap!

    Started a few weeks back with me too and living quietly does not help!

    Web search says it can be temporary so I have my fingers crossed...

  3. If you are a DJ Joe use the headphones and keep the level down else you will be deaf in later years. The ears are very senistive pieces of equipment, far greater than your electrically driven loudspeakers so take care of them. It must be awful having tinnitus but low level music does seem to help with the condition and I cannot see why you shouldn't be able to fall asleep under its influence unless you are energy conscious. The amount of power consumed is really very small indeed so why suffer? I hope the condition improves for you both though.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  4. I have suffered from this condition for to long to believe in 'temporary'.
    Lucy, you describe your 'ear' related living as if it were mine. And, it's amazing how we sometimes don't hear the noises because we are concentrating on other things. At the moment I can hear it loud and clear.

  5. Shirley Anne, thanks I have considered wearing ear plugs cut in half inside my ears so no one can see them. I try to keep the volume in my headphones down low, but when the music gets loud on the dance floor it becomes impossible for me to hear for mixing purposes etc.

    But I'm very aware I don't want to go deaf! Thank you for your kind words. :)

  6. I had this problem a while back and it went away. It seems to come back when I'm tensed up.


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