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How Tinnitus nearly drove 68-year-old man from Hitchin to suicide: The Effects of Hearing Impairments on our Mental Health

Hearing can hugely affect the way we perceive the world, and in doing so affects our lives and how we think every day. One man from Hitchin experienced these negative impacts from his hearing impairments to such an extent that it nearly drove him over the edge.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is experienced as a constant loud ringing sound in the ears, typically caused by excessive noise exposure, or injuries to the head, neck, and ears. For some, tinnitus can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure but it can also be caused by other factors such as stress.

How hearing impairments affect our mental wellbeing

Those of us without hearing impairments rarely consider how we would be affected in our daily lives or even how stressful minor hearing damage can be. 68-year-old Malcolm Johnston from Hitchin suffered from tinnitus for 12 years before the impact was too much too take.

Malcolm’s heart-wrenching story

In Malcolm’s case, he had worked in a factory using noisy machinery, but had failed to use any hearing protection. He developed a loud whistling noise in both ears that would never go away.

Not only was he unable to sleep, he had a very difficult time socialising, as the noise would become louder and drown out the noise around him. Over time, he became severely depressed to the point of even contemplating suicide.

Malcolm spoke to The Comet explaining more about his condition:

“Just before I decided to see Jane at Specsavers I had seriously considered committing suicide. Those who suffer from tinnitus will know just how much of an impact it can have on your life. I seemed to go through a mountain of appointments with various specialists, none of whom were able to help me.

My form of tinnitus is actually called aggressive tinnitus, which means that no matter how loud the environmental noise is around me, the whistling in my head would get louder to drown it out…

There really was nothing I could do to give myself any relief.”

After trying different types of hearing aids, issued from a multitude of specialists, nothing had worked. Most hearing aids plug up the ear canal which only amplifies the noise. Eventually, he visited a hearing aid audiologist who fitted him with custom open hearing aids, which leave the ear canal open so that environmental noise can be amplified to drown out the effects of Tinnitus.

But Malcom’s story is not uncommon

Tinnitus alone affects 1 in 10 adults, and this is only one of many disorders that can impair your hearing and lower the quality of your life. Other issues, such as Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, and vertigo, are caused by a lack of care and attention to the inner ear. Some can be treated or prevented by an expert, but even a simple ear wax removal can have an immediate positive impact on your hearing.

Don’t ignore the signs

Hearing tends to gradually deteriorate as you get older and it is easy to ignore these problems, however most of them are irreversible if they are ignored for too long. In a surprisingly small amount of time, hearing loss can impact your ability to socialise or even increase the danger of operating a vehicle, as you will become less aware of your surroundings.

Stay safe: Wear protection and have regular check ups

To conserve your hearing, it is best to wear hearing protection when exposed to hazardous background noise, such as in a loud factory or at a rock concert. It is always wise to schedule a regular ear exam in order to prevent any issues before they become noticeable.