LIVING WITH TINNITUS FOR 25 YEARS IS TOUGH, SAYS MUM OF TWO


Kate Cook of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, has had noises in her ears for about a quarter of a century. Five years ago, it became a constant distraction that she had to live with 24 hours a day. As she struggles to cope with tinnitus, the 41-year-old is struck by the lack of awareness, support and treatment for sufferers and believes there is a shortage of funding for research.


[UKPRwire, Thu Jun 28 2007] Kate Cook of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, has had noises in her ears for about a quarter of a century. Five years ago, it became a constant distraction that she had to live with 24 hours a day. As she struggles to cope with tinnitus, the 41-year-old is struck by the lack of awareness, support and treatment for sufferers and believes there is a shortage of funding for research.

Kate has lived with tinnitus for most of her life, but she is still learning to deal with the fact that there is no cure, no treatment for this debilitating symptom. It will remain with her for the rest of her life. Her mother began losing her hearing and suffering from tinnitus in her mid-30s, and is almost completely deaf now at the age of 75. Due to lack of funding for research into this symptom, Kate doesn’t know if tinnitus is hereditary. But she is afraid that her two young children might have to go through the same torment when they get older.

“It started as an intermittent squeaking in my ear when I was a teenager, and became more persistent as I grew older. I was in my 20s when I realised it was tinnitus. About five years ago it became a constant squeaking in both my ears. Sometimes it’s a lower whistle which comes in bursts. I became quite stressed about my hearing at this point, which was the same age my mum went deaf. So I went to my GP, who sent me to a hearing therapist,” recalls Kate.

Over six sessions of learning about tinnitus and how to cope with it, Kate realised that she would never be able to escape the sounds in her ears. “It was pretty depressing. I was faced with a brick wall. What do I do now? I’ve got this until I die,” she says. Since there is no cure for tinnitus, Kate doesn’t do any treatment for it. “My mum once said that if you do try and treat it, it gets worse because you never stop thinking about it.

”The only thing that works for me is white noise, so it doesn’t bother me when I’m working and there’s background noise. I also keep a speaker under my pillow to play music when I’m stressed or I have a cold, which makes the tinnitus worse,” she adds.

Although Kate has learnt to live with her symptom on a day-to-day basis, she doesn’t go to pubs, clubs, bars, concerts or any other venues with loud sounds. She avoids exposing her children to them as well, although a trip to the cinema for kiddie films is an occasional exception. But afterwards, her ears ring and the tinnitus is more noticeable for the next few days.

The lack of funding for research into this debilitating symptom is a cause for concern. “It is not a symptom that kills anybody, although some people are driven to suicide from depression. So tinnitus is not a pressing concern for the medical profession. But much more research is required to find ways to treat tinnitus and maybe even cure it,” feels Kate.

The UK-based charity Action for Tinnitus Research focuses on funding medical and scientific research in pursuit of a cure and raising awareness is a key part of its work. Operations director Nick Doughty said: “It is estimated that over five million people in the UK are affected by tinnitus and it can have a devastating effect on their quality of life. Not enough information is available about the very complex symptom and we are one of the few organisations 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,” he added.

For more information on Action for Tinnitus Research, logon to the website at
www.tinnitus-research.org, e-mail help@tinnitus-research.org or telephone 0115 925 4065

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