What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is latin and means a ringing or booming sensation in one or both ears. Tinnitus can be compared to a bit or foreign body, which has established in the auditory meatus, normally the left ear first. It cannot be taken away – it is there to stay. Tinnitus, as the little noisedevil is called, casts a constant sound, in an annonyingly equal tone and volume, almost like the test card in the telly.
The tone can vary from 3000 hz – 12000 hz. In my left ear it stays at approx. 5000 hz. The volume may start at approx. 50 dB, but can vary. The frequency of tinnitus is constantly heavier, some times constantly weaker. My experience is that my tinnitus is peaking after being in rooms or places with higher soundpressure than normal. Tinnitus is an annoying lodger, who always fills your head and you’ll never get rid of him. He is the one to take you to bed at night and the one to wake you up first thing in the morning. You have to be careful and try to attend the noisedevil with tolerance. Otherwise it might raise scary perspectives such as restlessness, unable to concentrate, depression, frustration, even rage or ending up beating yourself in the head(which, by the way, still is legal). Normally when your tooths or head aches, you can lower the pain with painkillers. But you can’t kill the painful sound of tinnitus, it ignores everything. When tinnitus have married one of your ears, there is no possibility of getting a divorce.
You must be careful it doesn’t marry the other ear too. Despite that tinnitus is bothering, it also lower your ability to hear. Soundfrequencies which matches the tinnitusfrequency cannot be analysed by the ear, and concerning these specific frequencies, it’s like being deaf. Musicians are probably the profession most in danger of tinnitus and hearing damages. Protection is therefore necessary – beyond any doubt. The are different protective possibilities: Earplugs, shielding or more space in the lineup of the orchestra, so the soundpressure will be less damaging. In a orchestra pit or small rehearsal room the last solution is impossible. Protection might often feel annoying or distractive. Some musicians express that they cannot hear themselves playing or as a reduction of their freedom. We do know that all protection is a reduction of freedom. With soundshields every musician has the possibility to choose the type of shield that matches his specific needs and wishes. The musician can during a concert vary his sitting position according to the actual volumelevel. If your work aquires extra shielding there are shield types with absorption of sound. The material about tinnitus is taken from my own experiences with the disease. I got tinnitus while I was testing the sound shields. One minute of not being cautious during an extreme soundgeneration was enough. So I’m warning you again “take care of your ears”, use Falko soundshields – they’ll protect you.
Henrik Falk Magnussen.