Save Your Hearing Campaign: Tinnitus, a personal account by Ali Robbins

Ali Robbins #SaveyourhearingTinnitus can come in many sound forms; some are high pitched, others a constant buzzing noise, ringing or low in tone among many others. We recently talked to Andrew Diver who describes his tinnitus as a constant white noise.

However, when we recently spoke with Ali Robbins, who’s been offered help and advice from British Tinnitus Association as well as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), she describes her tinnitus as a constant high pitched tones that can hiss on occasion and also change tone.

Aside from the differing sounds heard by tinnitus sufferers, their symptoms can vary too. We talked with Ali to find out how tinnitus affected her life initially and how she overcame her anxiety and depression related to the condition.

“I have suffered from tinnitus for 23 years now and initially I was badly affected by it. I was around 19 years old when I realised I had tinnitus. I did experience short bursts of ringing in my ears from time to time, but this case was different,” said Ali.

“I heard the noise constantly in both ears and found it incredibly hard to ignore. It came to a point that I started listening out for the noise, which began to affect my sleep. It began to affect my confidence and made me feel quite depressed.

“At 19 years old, which is an important time in a teenager’s life, and a time you should be out enjoying yourself, I was told under no circumstances should I ‘ever go anywhere noisy / never go to a concert / never go to a noisy bar / not go to clubs and pubs or cinema / avoid at all costs loud noise’. 

“I was told that only in extreme circumstances could I go for short periods to noisy places, but I would have to wear foam ear plugs to ‘protect my sensitive hearing’.

“This news was pretty devastating as, at that time, my social life - as most teenagers find - revolved around music, socialising and going out with friends.  I resigned myself to a life where I could not do the things I loved unless I wore ear plugs, and from that moment on, in any noisy social situation, I wore these ear plugs – even when I used the hairdryer.  I was so fearful that I would do myself more damage; I was going to make damned sure that wouldn’t happen.

“All went very well until around two years later I started to find even normal every day sounds very loud.  It started when I realised that when I was watching TV I could hear the emission sound from it more than the sound of the TV itself, and over the course of a few months, everything became too loud for me – so much so that even my family having dinner and cutting food on their plates became excruciating for me. 

“My confidence that had been back to normal started to disappear and I became very anxious and depressed.  Because I was then so worried about the pain I was experiencing from any noises, I stopped going out and eventually under duress, visited the doctors who prescribed anti-depressants.”

During this time, Ali was signed off work for a month or so with the feeling of being unable to function due to lack of sleep and being too upset; caused in no small part to incorrect professional advice that she’d initially been given.

“Over the course of a couple of months, I had weekly sessions with a CBT counsellor (who suffered with tinnitus herself) and gradually I was able to retrain my brain to ignore the tinnitus and allow myself to start going out again/going to work. 

“The CBT gave me really useful steps to help me realise that by listening out for the tinnitus sounds, I was allowing them to be louder than they actually were. 

“This was almost 20 years ago, and as an avid music fan I have been to many concerts and festivals and have not been affected by the tinnitus since.”

Tinnitus can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives like Ali has shown, which is why we believe our #Saveyourhearing campaign is so important.

There is no real cure for tinnitus and other hearing problems, which is why prevention is the only realistic option. When we asked Ali what advice she would give to those who  continue to subject themselves to loud noises on a regular basis, she responded: “I think everyone's experience is different but for me, if I was subjecting myself to loud music on a regular basis, I would spend some of this time wearing ear plugs.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  

“You only have to see at gigs and festivals that most sound engineers or stage hands will be wearing some sort of protection and that's so worthwhile.  I would also suggest younger people turn down the music in their headphones as I would be worried that continual use could cause hearing damage.”

If you want your story to be heard on our blog or perhaps you’d like to show your support for the #Saveyourhearing campaign, you can drop us a line at [email protected].

Why not help us spread awareness for hearing loss by sharing the hashtag #Saveyourhearing or our campaign badge below:

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Save Your Hearing Campaign: Tinnitus, a personal account by Andrew Diver  

#SaveyourhearingIn December we were able to chat to a clay pigeon shooter and a mildly-deaf radio presenter about their personal experiences with deafness and tinnitus and their support for our #Saveyourhearing campaign. Throughout our campaign we aim to raise awareness for hearing health through the experiences of people like Liam O’Dell

We have talked at length about how deafness and tinnitus can affect working life; how Liam has been able to continue listening to the music he enjoys and how he has been able to craft the makings of a career in radio presenting despite being mildly deaf and suffering from tinnitus.

In our latest interview we caught up with Andrew Diver, who explains how suffering from tinnitus has affected his relationships, dealing with stress and developing his ability to lip read.

“I have been suffering from tinnitus for as long as I can remember and I am 41 now. I recall when I was younger I thought the noise I could hear was like a “Spiderman sense” so it has always been there,” said Andrew.

“I hear a constant white noise that can fluctuate in volume depending upon various factors and it is managing these factors which I have largely become accustomed to. 

“Being tired, exposed to stress or protracted loud noises can make the noise louder.   Stress is particularly difficult as when situations are stressful the last thing you need is a ringing in your ears which is louder and louder.”   

This is something that has impacted upon Andrew’s life, especially growing up as a shy young man: “I frequently struggle to hear people which puts pressure on relationships.  My struggle to understand people often occurs in environments where there are multiple sound sources and due to this I generally avoid noisy pubs/clubs and situations where I will be unable to hear.  

“I did struggle when younger and being shy when not properly hearing others didn’t help. I was not always right.  Now I am older and more confident I don’t suffer from this problem as I will freely ask people to repeat things.   In some small way I believe my lack of hearing has led to other senses adapting to compensate. 

“My eyesight was always exceptional (not sure if it is diminishing now) and likewise not always being able to hear people my lip reading, and ability to assess human behaviour to fill in the gaps I believe is better than it would have been if I didn’t suffer from tinnitus.”

It is safe to say that throughout the years Andrew has come to terms with and overcome his shyness and suffering from tinnitus, picking up ways to help block out the constant white noise he hears: “Whilst it is always there, I can usually mentally block it out.  Simply reducing stress is probably the biggest aid. Being aware of it isn’t helpful and having distractions can help.   I’ve found that having a small amount of general noise helps, but as I’m currently located in a quiet office the sound becomes louder because I don’t have other stimulus to latch my hearing onto.  I can therefore understand why other people have spoken about music helping as it both masks the sounds when you hear in silence as well as destressing.”

Tinnitus is a growing concern in the UK, especially when it comes to young adults who often plug themselves into personal audio devices and listen to music at exceptional volumes. It’s not just listening to music through headphones that poses a threat to youngsters’ hearing. Going to gigs, nightclubs and concerts where sound levels can reach highs of 130dB (45dB higher than what is considered to be safe noise levels). Andrew told us of his experience going to concerts and what advice he would give to his daughter:

“After concerts I am certainly struggling with increased volume levels of the tinnitus for several days afterwards.  This does seriously impact upon my life.   Like many ailments there can be many factors attributed to their cause, mine I suspect is largely hereditary as my dad is also a sufferer and I also suffered from numerous ear infections as a child.  

“Loud noise and music was probably not a factor in my instance, however I can understand the scientific basis for this hypothesis.   I certainly would look for my daughter to wear earplugs at concerts where volume was likely to be significant.  It may even be a condition of her going.

“I think it is a good idea to increase awareness for hearing health, and for those in industries where loud noises are most prevalent to take a responsible standpoint on the long term impact upon their customers, fans, supporters and the general public. I hope people take note of the #Saveyourhearing campaign.”

If you want your story to be told on our blog or perhaps show your support for the #Saveyourhearing campaign you can drop us a line at [email protected].

Why not help us spread awareness for hearing loss by sharing the hashtag #Saveyourhearing or perhaps the badge below:

Save Your Hearing


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The Blackout, Cancer Bats and While She Sleeps throw weight behind #Saveyourhearing campaign

Major online retailers have launched the #saveyourhearing campaign to raise awareness of the potential damage that can be done to your hearing by persistently going to gigs without ear protection.  Working with them are three of the rock world’s most celebrated bands.

Hardcore punkers Cancer Bats, Sheffield metalcore mob While She Sleeps, American metallers Edge of Paradise and Welsh post-hardcore act The Blackout have all thrown their weight behind the campaign, sending out tweets to their substantial online following and receiving a number of retweets and favourites as a result.

While She SleepsThe Blackout, who announced their final tour as a band earlier this year, tweeted to their over 50,000 followers “You’ve only got two ears. Don’t break them.”  They then went on to elaborate in a released statement: “As an artist playing shows day in day out it can be intensely draining to your entire body, but unlike your muscles, your ear drums and hearing won't grow stronger. Protecting them at all times is essential. Ear Peace earplugs give you the essential clarity and sharpness of sound whilst protecting your hearing from damaging stage sounds.”

Cancer Bats – who’re known for their killer live shows – also emphasised the need for effective ear care at gigs, especially with bands who’re as loud as they are: “We love to play really loud, live and when we jam! So we're always wearing earplugs to protect our hearing! Our fav's are the Alpine Musicsafe Pro's as they are super comfortable and keep the sound really clear when we're riffing like crazy!” 

Cancer BatsSheffield riffers While She Sleeps also voiced their support for the campaign: “Strangely enough it took us quite a while for the importance of wearing ear plugs to sink in! If you’re like us and like your music loud, we urge you to start wearing them now before it’s too late. It would be a disaster to damage a part of you that makes you so happy and can create such colourful worlds of wave form dimensions that can provide you with so many areas of peace, pleasure and creativity.”

An average rock concert has been measured by Action on Hearing Loss as being around 115dB, 35dB over what’s considered the ‘danger level’.  This is enough to start causing damage after less than ten minutes – barely enough for three songs, let alone a whole evening.

According to a report from Action on Hearing Loss, awareness is still low, with on 34 per cent of the young people surveyed believing that hearing loss would affect their lives in some way, and 88 per cent disagreeing that music is played too loudly at gigs/concerts.  What’s more, a staggering 90% per cent of young people have experienced ringing in their ears – an early sign of damage – at least once.

As of 2011, 10 million people in the UK suffered some form of hearing loss, with that figure expected to reach 14.5 million by 2031. About 10 per cent of the population have also experienced tinnitus, a debilitating condition frequently caused by excessive noise, and common amongst rock stars. are an online retailer specialising in providing high quality ear plugs at excellent prices, with a wide range of stock available for shipping immediately.  They started up the campaign in order to raise awareness around an issue that’s still not treated as seriously as it could be.

Managing Director Rob Doole said: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying live music, but many people are still unaware just how much damage they could be causing to their hearing if they’re a regular gig goer.  We’re really pleased that the bands were able to get behind the campaign and communicate it with their thousands of fans online.”


Save Your Hearing Campaign: A Mildly-Deaf Radio Presenter’s Response

Liam O'DellFollowing our conversation with clay pigeon shooter Corey Honess concerning his response to our #Saveyourhearing campaign, we caught up with student radio presenter Liam O’Dell. Liam was happy to talk through his experience of tinnitus and how he deals with it along with mild deafness.

10 per cent of the UK population alone suffer from a constant mild form of Tinnitus according to the BTA (British Tinnitus Association). Speaking with us about his Tinnitus, Liam told us;

“The best way to describe tinnitus -in my opinion - is to say imagine a whistling kettle that won't stop and cannot be ignored. The more attention you pay to it, the louder it seems to sound. Music definitely helps me to deal with tinnitus. My hearing aids can also 'mask' it to some extent. Otherwise, I try to find ways to distract myself from it, because paying attention to tinnitus only makes it worse.”

Liam is currently in his first year of studying journalism at the University of Lincoln, and has already agreed to presenting his own show on the community radio, Siren FM. Talking to NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) earlier this year, Liam said; “Some hearing people think that deaf people can’t listen to music, but that’s not always true. I am mildly deaf and wear hearing aids, but I can still listen to music. In fact, it’s made me love it more, and that’s why I wanted to do my own radio show!”

Presenting his own radio show whilst dealing with Tinnitus has had its ups and downs but Liam has never allowed it to get in the way nor deter him from doing a good job; “I suppose my hearing loss has had an impact on my show. Obviously on a radio show it's all about the sound and music. Whilst I can hear the music OK, being able to hear my co-presenter Danyal over the music can be difficult sometimes.

“Thankfully, the headphones we use at Siren FM are closed headphones, and they tend to work well with hearing aids. I use Bose headphones for personal use and they work really well with my hearing aids - minus the occasional feedback.”

Our #Saveyourhearing campaign aims to spread global awareness of hearing loss and tinnitus. Worryingly, 90 per cent of young people have admitted experiencing ringing in their ears: a knownearly sign of hearing damage. It is imperative that people are mindful of the environments they put themselves in, such aslistening to music using personal audio devices, going to gigs and riding motorcycles. If you would like to find out more about the risk that everyday sounds can carry and how they can affect your hearing, why not have a look at our infographic, Why you should wear hearing protection?

When speaking about #Saveyourhearing Liam said to us; “I think the #saveyourhearing campaign is an excellent idea spreading awareness for such an important issue. Whilst I know music means a lot to a large amount of people, I’ve been able to hear people’s music even when they’re wearing headphones. I can’t begin to imagine what that does to their hearing, but it’s important to know how to listen to music safely. Hearing is something you can’t get back once you lose it, and tinnitus is something that won’t go away once you get it. Your hearing is really precious, so listen to music safely!”

If you want your story to be told on our blog or perhaps show your support for the #Saveyourhearing campaign you can drop us a line at [email protected].

Why not help us spread awareness for hearing loss by sharing the hashtag #Saveyourhearing or perhaps the badge below:

Save Your Hearing


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Save Your Hearing Campaign: A Clay Shooter’s Response

#Saveyourhearing campaign logoBack in February this year we launched our #Saveyourhearing campaign, designed to spread the awareness of hearing loss, tinnitus and deafness.

Throughout the year we have been delighted to gain support from leading sportsmen and women along with well-known bands across the globe and an incredible array of publications and blogs that cover everything from swimming and music to construction, shooting and hospitality.

The music industry was naturally our first port of call and once we had secured the backing of the Cancer Bats, While She Sleeps and The Blackout, word of #Saveyourhearing quickly spread across the Atlantic. American metal band, Edge of Paradise also got in touch to lend their support for the campaign.

It is always great to hear from people who have heard about our campaign and support our cause. After gaining the support of Stuart Clarke, a clay shooter with over 20 major championships to his name,. clay pigeon shooting fanatic Corey Honess got in touch with us to throw his weight behind the campaign due to his first-hand experience of tinnitus (have a listen to hear what tinnitus sounds like) and often sees fellow clay shooters practising without any hearing protection. 

Corey was first introduced to clay shooting in December 2014 at a corporate day, and has since been shooting on a regular basis. Shooting with colleagues and his step-father, Corey is keen to shoot as much as possible to perfect his aim, using the Fareham CTC ground and Southdowns Gun Club for registered competitions.

“I first became aware of the #Saveyourhearing campaign in Clay Shooting Magazine, with a fellow clay shooter stating that he was supporting the campaign,” said Corey.

 “I have previously experienced ringing in my ears after shooting and I knew it was because I was not wearing ear protection, or if I did it was not worn correctly. I didn't want to have lasting damage. The campaign makes me realise again how important it is and how people need to know how dangerous it can be.

“I see people without protection on a regular basis, mostly at local, small club shoots, and usually the young are those without it. I carry extra disposables with me in case others require them, and I always offer them to those without in an attempt to aid others,” added Corey.

It is always great to hear from people who resonate with our campaign and hear their stories. Since we launched our campaign we have managed to reach a potential five million-plus people, and although this is an impressive number it isn’t enough!

It is expected that 14.5 million people in the UK will suffer some form of hearing loss by 2031, so please help us spread awareness for hearing health and use the hashtag #Saveyourhearing.