Wiltshire man’s relationship and life ruined by tinnitus

Published: Thu Jul 10 2008

At just 33, David Brinn of Calne near Swindon, Wiltshire, is one of a growing number of young people to be tormented by tinnitus – a condition normally associated with older people. David blames listening to loud music on an MP3 player for prolonged periods as the cause of his hearing loss and tinnitus, and now wishes he had followed his father’s advice to "turn down the volume."

"I started losing my hearing early in 2005 and soon after the tinnitus started. It is a high pitched whistling noise like you would hear after a loud concert but, in my case, it never goes away. The tinnitus causes stress which in turn makes the tinnitus worse", says David.

So severe is the tinnitus, that IT consultant David blames it for his relationship breakdown: "I was due to get married at the end of 2006 but it was called off and the relationship ended; my partner just could not understand the torment, because it is not something you can see, feel or touch. It is devastating not being able to explain to your loved ones how it feels to have tinnitus.

"It has also turned me into a workaholic; it is the only way I can focus my attentions on something other than the tinnitus and I am lucky if I get five hours sleep a night. I need to have the radio or TV on constantly, otherwise I cannot sleep at all. The quality of sleep I do get is extremely poor. Tinnitus is the worst thing that has ever happened in my life and I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

"Having lived with tinnitus for a few years, I think I could cope with deafness quite easily if the tinnitus would go away. That’s how bad the tinnitus is; total deafness would be a great relief. As it is, I fear I may never get peace and quiet back again, at least not in this lifetime."
David has been to see his GP and was referred to an ENT specialist in Bath. The experience wasn’t great, and he left feeling that there was nothing that could be done to get rid of the tinnitus. He says: "I had an MRI scan to check it wasn’t anything even worse, and when that was clear they confirmed I "only had tinnitus", and that was that! I felt that they were really saying "so what, learn to live with it like everyone else!" I have tried hearing aids, a sound generator, I stopped smoking, stopped eating dairy products and stopped taking caffeine. Doing all this only made me more and more miserable and had no positive effect whatsoever. There’s been nothing like this in the family before, so I am sure it was my abuse of the volume control on the MP3 player; this is something that today’s young people should take very seriously indeed."

In an attempt to let his new girlfriend know what tinnitus is like, David switched the TV to a blank channel and turned up the white noise to full volume and made her sit there for several minutes. "It’s a bit like that, and it is there all the time", David said. His girlfriend was deeply shocked and now tries to help David as much as possible to cope on a daily basis.

Until now, David has been reluctant to talk about his tinnitus: "I didn’t want to tell people, I didn’t want to be treated differently. I already get strange looks when I’m juggling the phone handset at work, because of the discomfort I’m in. In the office which is often busy with 80 plus staff, I can’t communicate with people unless I am able to see their faces clearly and lipread what they are saying, it’s dreadful," he says.

David’s attitude to anonymity has changed recently, purely because of his frustration at not being able to do anything about his tinnitus. "I was Googling for tinnitus and came across the Deafness Research UK website. There is quite a bit of useful information on there and they have suggested things that I’ve not tried before to hopefully get some relief. The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach (CBT) is certainly new to me, and I will certainly be looking into this further.

"I think it’s imperative that the word is spread about how destructive tinnitus is to people’s well-being, their relationships and quality of life. I fully support Deafness Research UK’s efforts to increase awareness of tinnitus, and raise the cash for research that may ultimately end this misery for millions of people like me", he adds.

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: "Nearly 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 research and providing practical information to health professionals for the benefit of sufferers."

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

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Ref: DRUK0083 – David Brinn tinnitus experience
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