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

In 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.”

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