My Tinnitus & Alcohol Journey

By Allan Morgan

It all started with a love of music. Many club night and gig venues back in the 80s and 90s paid little or no attention to the user experience when it came to decibel levels. I always needed to ‘feel the music’ that I was listening to so that I could get the best possible experience from it. For me personally, there was a never-ending quest to reach that ‘sweet spot’ when the mood you were in matched the musical high of a particular song you were listening to. My view was that the louder the sound the more the feelings were enhanced towards the possibility of achieving that crescendo moment of transcendental joy.

Now in my mid 50s I first noticed my tinnitus in and around 1998. At first it was something that was a mild nuisance that I came to terms with. Three years later I decided that I needed to, once and for all, go and see someone about my hearing due to the exposure that I had had to loud music over many many years. The ear, nose and throat specialist very quickly diagnosed tinnitus along with slight hearing loss and that it was something that I would just have to manage and live with.

Sometime later I felt an uncomfortable sensation in my right ear and went to my local GP to get them to have a look what might be causing this. It transpired that I had a large build-up of wax in the ear and that it would need to be removed by way of ear syringing. I had the procedure and the wax was successfully removed. However, the actual procedure itself caused my tinnitus to go into overdrive where the noise levels increased dramatically and have not quietened down ever since.

My early 40’s saw me having to deal with a condition that proved to be very stressful at times, especially during quieter times when all you want is the solace of complete silence when relaxing and reading. Thankfully it has never affected my sleep and I would always be able to get to sleep very easily despite the noise in this very quiet space.

The one area however that it has had the most impact on was my concentration levels when reading and studying. Some occasions were much more difficult to deal with than others and many times I would find myself having to reread passages to understand what I’d just read. Several attempts were made to try and learn Spanish either independently or at two evening courses at college without any real success.

 

“I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood.” Chris Martin – Coldplay.

One particular act that exacerbated the noise levels was drinking alcohol. The physical stress that alcohol puts on our bodies has been well documented throughout the years. Research has shown that the act of drinking alcohol results in the swelling of blood vessels in the ear which increases blood flow within the inner ear. After a particularly heavy night of drinking the following day would be a case of having to get through and deal with level 10 high pitched screaming in both ears.

In 2019 I decided that the stress of dealing with my tinnitus after drinking would have to be addressed once and for all. The drinking was also having a detrimental effect of my mojo, wellbeing and my ability to get things done. If I could get just a few weeks under my belt maybe I could once and for all be someone who not only could ‘achieve things’ but also not have to deal with the stress of that level 10 tinnitus after an evening out.

As I type this I am 657 days alcohol-free and very much living life on the fun side of the island. I have not had to endure the stress and anxiety of that morning after the night before feeling for nearly 2 years now. I am fitter, healthier and more productive than at any point in my life. Sure, the tinnitus is still there and there are times when my studying and concentration are affected by it, usually when I am more tired than usual. However, I have managed to overcome the low mood and stress that comes from having such a condition and consider myself as someone who now gets things done.

My journey to become a life-coach is well underway and there will always be new learning and new approaches to keep me moving forward whilst managing my tinnitus. Study, coursework and tinnitus are now being managed more successfully than would otherwise have been the case had I not made these lifestyle changes.

To conclude, my journey to become a life-coach is well underway. My tinnitus is being managed much more successfully thanks to the lifestyle changes I have made and I now look forward to working with others to help them successfully manage their tinnitus too.

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