Andrew Goodwin’s definition of his tinnitus is frank.
“It’s a noise I can’t identify which freaks me out.”
He first began to hear a weird, piercing noise in his ears aged 31. On the same day in 2002, Andrew became profoundly deaf.
It was a terrifying and lonely time for him. Eighteen months later he discovered hearing aids which were powerful enough to help him hear again, but the tinnitus remained.
The noise he hears, but which no one else can, takes on a different character depending on how Andrew is feeling.
“When I am stressed it sounds like wind rushing through the trees. But at night after a long day it can be sinister. It sounds like there are voices, whispering…”
“Initially I didn’t know what it was or where it was coming from. I thought I was going mad,” he says.
Five million people in the UK are thought to live with tinnitus, but not all suffer from hearing loss as well.
The British Tinnitus Association says that about 10% of the UK adult population have mild tinnitus all the time and, in up to 1% of adults, this may affect their quality of life.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any actual, corresponding external sound and it can occur at any age – even in quite young children.
Although the precise cause of tinnitus is still not fully understood, experts say there are certain things which should be avoided.