You may not have known this but last week in the UK it was Tinnitus Awareness Week, you probably didn’t hear it (you can see where this is going can’t you?), maybe because of that constant ringing in your ear.
I can’t remember a time when my ears didn’t ring, from my early 20’s onwards it’s been a constant companion, if you could call it that. But in the last ten or so years I’ve been really aware of it. Baby sitting for friends a while ago in their lovely large quiet house I became aware of just how bad it was – it was like having my head stuck in a vice.
It’s reckoned that around 10% of the UK public suffer from tinnitus – i’d reckon that figure is a lot higher. Our general environments are so noisy anyway we probably don’t tend to notice it that much. I’ve been for a few hearing tests and my hearing is and I quote ‘ just fine’. I was even told that my hearing was ‘above average’ in the range one would expect it to be fried from listening to music at too loud a level. And it’s that listening at loud levels that’s done it.
It’s there all the time & it’s particularly bad at the moment – it can affect you more when your tired or stressed – and it’s really depressing. I’ve been wearing ear protection for gigs since I was thirty to try to keep my ears working for as long as I can. Too little, too late – I’m now facing the fact I will probably have to stop playing live with regular PA’s very soon, as it just does me no favours at all. I’m trying to figure out a way around this – it would mean smaller quiet venues with an ingenious low power PA output/hi-fi output – but I’m not holding my breath.
When I was younger I tried earplugs a few times but I couldn’t get used to them and they were really difficult to use as singer. What I know now is this – once you get used to them (just wear them as often as you can for week to be accustomed to it) you realise they don’t take away any of the pleasure and joy of listening to music.
Do yourself a favour, get yourself some ear protection today and start using it now.