Helping you Real lives "I am desperate to do whatever I can to raise awareness" Sarah Love, (44) from London, has had many years of loud music. DJing, attending gigs, using head and earphones to listen to music without ear protection, eventually took its toll on her ears and has left her with constant tinnitus. Sarah reveals the enormous impact it’s had on her everyday life. When I look back I’ve had tinnitus for the last ten years brought on by my love for music, clubbing and DJ’ing. Music is such a big part of my life and I’ve always liked it loud – whether it was social events, in the car and even when out running, I had music in my ears, either through speakers, earphones or headphones. At no point did anyone warn me about the potential problems, so I was just not aware of the damage I was doing. I carried on with my lifestyle and had the occasional noise of what sounded like 100 mice squeaking in my ears, but it would disappear. But around three years ago I suffered a lot of stress in my personal life which went on for some time and it was then that I noticed this noise didn’t go away and had increased to what I can only describe as a field of crickets with a very high pitch tone running through it. I had to stop listening and playing music, going out socialising and even doing martial arts as the noise got so unbearable, and it was at this point that I went to my doctor and was sent off for tests. After having every test done, I was diagnosed with tinnitus through hearing loss due to loud music, and possibly stress, but I wasn’t given that much advice. The attitude seemed to be that there is no cure, there’s nothing you can do so just get on with it, and that the worst case scenario was I could go on anti-depressants! I found my own way of coping really. I know stress is a big factor with me. Life has its ups and downs and stress, tiredness, lots on my mind, seem to make my tinnitus worse. My dad was very ill earlier this year and again, my tinnitus went through the roof. At these times I really have wondered how I am going to cope with it for the rest of my life. The worry of never hearing silence ever again. I am used to being the life and soul of the party, always on the go, outgoing and loud, but I’ve had to change and adapt to manage my condition. I now use special earplugs that cut out a certain amount of decibels depending on the filters I need to use for the environment I’m going into. I also know my limits, so take time out during the day to relax and just stop, so I have periods of calm. A good night’s sleep always helps me too. It’s about finding what works for you. Once you talk about tinnitus, you realise just how many people are affected and the impact it has. For years I thought I was suffering on my own. I’m at the stage now where things are looking more positive in the way I see my tinnitus, and I try and manage it so I can still have some social time, have some time with my beloved music and am back to DJ’ing, albeit on the rare occasion, at least I can still enjoy my passion, I cannot let this tinnitus beat me. I will have to do things differently though by wearing ear protection, doing my set and then taking time out, always taking breaks from noise. The most important thing now is avoiding any more damage, maintaining a calm and positive outlook on life, dealing with stress but taking time to de-stress - I also need to be more respectful to my ears. I am desperate to do whatever I can to raise awareness of this terrible condition.