Scots construction industry consultant learns to live with tinnitus

Published: Mon Jun 09 2008

Iain Clarke from Edinburgh has been living with tinnitus for almost twenty years. He can’t stop the constant sound in his head, yet he knows no one can hear it but him. Both his ears are affected by the condition. Iain, who’s still only 34, hopes that more funding will become available so that a proper cure for tinnitus can be developed within his lifetime.

As a teenager, Iain was working on a construction site when he accidentally got too close to some dangerously loud hammering without protection for his ears. Tinnitus developed in his left ear very soon after. About five years later, he was at a particularly noisy rugby match, standing next to excited and very loud spectator, and afterwards noticed a ringing in his right ear which has never gone away.

"My dad already suffered from tinnitus and my aunt is a nurse, so they were soon able to tell me what was wrong when I first described my symptoms," recalls Iain. "I went to see an ENT specialist eventually to get it checked out, but I was told there wasn’t much that could be done.

His left ear is worse than his right, but he has adjusted to the symptoms and can forget about the continuous humming for most of the time. But working for a construction industry consultancy, precautions are necessary for on-site visits and he takes the noise at work regulations very seriously.

"More public awareness of the damaging effect of loud noise is needed; I don’t think people know enough about it and its link to tinnitus and hearing loss. Possibly, because it can’t be seen, tinnitus is not perceived to be a serious issue despite its ability to disrupt sleep and cause anxiety and depression," adds Iain.

Deafness Research UK is the country's only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for the deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people including tinnitus sufferers.

Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, said: "Around five million people in the UK are affected by tinnitus and it can have a devastating effect on their quality of life. Not enough is known about this very complex condition and we are determined to do something about it. We are committed to funding leading edge research and providing practical information to health professionals for the benefit of sufferers," she added.

‘Deafness Research UK has produced a useful guide called ‘Managing Tinnitus’. To receive a copy telephone 0808 808 2222 or email For information on research into deafness and other hearing conditions, log on to the website,

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