Learning to live with tinnitus

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Credit: Reuters

Chris Martin from Coldplay knows what it's like. He has revealed that he suffers from Tinnitus. That's something we sadly have in common.

It's always there. Like a whistling kettle. Right there in my right ear. Sometimes it's incredibly loud. And then I have to focus my mind on distracting my brain from the noise. Focus on the noise from the TV instead. Or start singing. The latter option is not popular amongst my family.

I have lived with my tinnitus for 14 years. Fourteen long, noisy years. It came complete with hearing loss after I'd been on two long flights back to back - two big family weddings (Indian weddings, therefore big) in LA and then India.

When I got off the plane at the end of that I noticed the noise. At first it was if there was a fax machine going off nearby. But then the noise stayed.

It was scary at first - people kill themselves with tinnitus I was told by a helpful friend, the noise drives them mad. It drives me to distraction but the truth is that I simply live with it, and have accepted that it will never be cured. I have grown to understand it.

Like an early warning system, it is louder when I am coming down with something, a cold maybe, or I am tired. When the volume goes up, I read it, and tell myself to have an early night or get the cold remedies in.

In the past decade I have had three brain scans, physiotherapy, acupuncture, tried white noise therapy where I keep the radio on at night to disguise the noise in my ear. But nothing has worked, there have been no answers as to why exactly I got Tinnitus. A hearing aid takes care of the hearing loss part of the condition for me. But nothing takes care of the noisy bit.

I have no secret career as a rock star, and yes I have seen Iron Maiden in concert but never subjected my ears to blasting music on earphones. The theory is that something happened to my ears on the long plane journeys - the cabin pressure combined with perhaps an ear infection I may have picked up in India.

The condition has baffled medical experts over the decades but it is thought that it is damage caused to the hair cells in the ears that results in the whistling or buzzing noise.

My favourite theory is that it is the sound of my brain working. I like the sound of that.

There are an estimated six million Tinnitus sufferers in the UK. And we can say that listening to loud music generally speaking is the main cause. So look after your ears. Or you'll never hear the end of it.

To read what Chris Martin has to say about coping with tinnitus, click here.