Tinnitus, the hidden disability

  July 06, 2015




Having recently injured my shoulder enough to warrant a trip to A&E and a sling for two weeks, it was with some trepidation, when complete with sling, I stepped on to the tube to get to work.

Any bump could be very painful so I much preferred to sit than stand in the busy morning carriage. Without exception, on every day I wore the sling, I was offered a seat and assistance by kind strangers.

When the sling was removed, I was still slightly cautious and keen to avoid bumps, but without the signalling of having the sling, nobody stood up, and I took my chances with getting a seat on my rush hour tube.

It made me think about our patients, many of whom would regard themselves as having a hidden ‘disability’ every day of their lives?

People living with tinnitus often avoid noisy places because they have an increased sensitivity to sound. A table in a restaurant away from the clatter of the kitchen or the ever present music would be nice – but can restaurants provide that level of service? And would they be understanding?

Tinnitus can reduce a person’s ability to hear clearly in crowded places. Ordering drinks in a busy bar can be a nightmare as the costs of the round, the change and any questions from the bar staff disappear in the general hubbub of noise. Understanding?

Not usually – just an annoyed expression as the bartender wants to move on to the next customer and keep the drinks flowing.

We need to educate people about the hidden challenges of tinnitus – especially those who provide service to, and work with, the public. Until we do, restaurants and bars for many people with tinnitus are just places where they used to go.


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Director's Blog

An important part of my mission at The Tinnitus Clinic is to share our knowledge of tinnitus;  its causes, how to prevent it and what to do if you are suffering from the condition. This blog will go some way in achieving this aim.


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