We hear crickets chirping, kettles whistling, bells clanging, strange voices and a whole cacophony of sounds which the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra would struggle to replicate at full pelt.
|Tinnitus sufferers don't want to hear bells at Christmas!|
Add to this the problem that, for many Tinnitus sufferers, they are isolated by the fact that very few people understand how soul-destroying and draining a condition it can be.
Many Tinnitus sufferers live in a permanent state of heightened anxiety just waiting for something to set off their particular collection of sounds.
We travel with earplugs in our bags in case shop music is too loud. We cannot attend a concert with 'naked' ears. Or, if we are brave enough to do so, we sit there just wondering whether we will pay for it tomorrow by a ramped up buzz (known to sufferers as a spike).
Car radios are a no-no. The sound of a pneumatic drill or an ambulance siren when we are out and about may make us cover our ears. Hairdryers, coffee machines, grass cutters, balloons popping - there is literally no end to the sounds which can set our ears off.
Simple things like attending a carol concert, a school nativity play or a pantomime become a sort of aural Russian Roulette.
Because the condition is so isolating, Tinnitus sufferers need to mix and socialise but the very thing they need the most can be the trigger for days of anxiety afterwards.
The great irony is that many sufferers are prescribed antidepressants to help them cope with their anxiety - and the tablets they are prescribed have been heavily implicated (at least anecdotally) in the increase or even causation of Tinnitus. If you think I am exaggerating, a quick search of, for example, "Citalopram (a SSRI) and Tinnitus" brings up reams of stories from people who wish they'd never taken the stuff.
It is symptomatic of the fact that Tinnitus is so little understood by the medical profession, so infrequently acknowledged and so under-researched that sufferers are left to their own devices to seek for endless homeopathic or alternative cures, and fall prey to every quack who comes up with a 'miracle cure'.
We are left to cope with our problem alone and that, at Christmas, can be pretty miserable at a time when music is so important and such a part of the festivities.
So please be kind to those with this miserable condition.
And remember, they'll want fewer jingle bells and more of a silent night.
Further information: if you suspect you have Tinnitus, please talk to your GP and contact the British Tinnitus Association who have lots of helpful information.