Former Royal Marine injured in Afghanistan urges greater awareness of ‘life-limiting’ tinnitus

Out of all my injuries, tinnitus is the one that’s affected me most.

Harris Tatakis

Out of all my injuries, tinnitus is the one that’s affected me most.

“I was seriously injured when my Land Rover drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, shattering my left leg, breaking my right foot, causing brain damage and rupturing both my ear drums and causing permanent tinnitus.

Because it's an unseen injury, it doesn’t get the attention it warrants. There is not enough understanding of how life-limiting tinnitus can be – the need for low background noise to distract you combined with constantly keeping yourself occupied to stop your brain focusing on the noises it’s being bombarded with, it’s hugely tiring. Out of all my injuries this is the one that’s affected me most.

I was in hospital after the explosion and undergoing a lot of surgery – I needed to rest as much as possible so I could start to heal and get better. But while I was being given morphine for the pain, medication couldn’t do anything about the constant ringing in my ears which was affecting my ability to sleep or even try to relax.

I’m also affected by hyperacusis which means I am very sensitive to loud or high-pitched tones – which is basically tinnitus – so the two conditions often clash and it can become unbearable.

I have had treatment for my hearing issues at various NHS hospitals in the past which helped get the conditions under control to an extent. But last year I went back into hospital for another operation on my leg and afterwards had a bad reaction to the medication – and my tinnitus went through the roof. It was horrendous and making me feel desperate and I was searching online every day for treatments when I discovered The Tinnitus Clinic. I realised a lot of the treatments they had were exclusive to the UK and decided to see if they could help.”

The treatment has reduced the intensity

"I started treatment at the Clinic in January and received a mixture of Tinnitus Desensitisation Therapy™ (TDT) and Levo® which uses iPod technology to deliver treatment while I sleep. The treatment has reduced the intensity a lot and brought it back to the level it was before the bad reaction last year. I am able to function a lot better and can live with the level.

There needs to be much greater understanding of tinnitus and the treatments available. People get told all the time there’s no cure and while that may well be true, there are treatments out there that can help make it much more manageable and easier to live with.”

Harris Tatakis on BBC Radio Devon

Listen to Harris' interview with BBC Radio Devon's, David FitzGerald, aired on 16th June 2017

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