By day, Paul is one of the team of printers who print Quiet magazine. But he also has another passion - music. How does tinnitus affect this?

Hello, my name is Paul. I’m a DJ, radio DJ, music producer and a litho printer by day. As you can probably guess, I’m also a tinnitus sufferer. I've been a printer by trade for 20 years, and a DJ for even longer.

As a DJ and weekly clubber since before the Millennium, I've spent a lot of time in night clubs and bars and didn't protect my ears. I would say I've had tinnitus since the mid-2000s at a guess. I would wake up from gigs or nights out with ringing ears and think, "It's ok, it will pass," which it usually did until one time it didn’t and it has never gone away.

The ringing never stopped

I attended a club night in Sheffield and the sound system was terrible, very top heavy and harsh on the ears. When I woke up the following day, the ringing I was used to hearing never stopped.

My tinnitus mainly bothers me in quiet spaces. As I work in a loud environment, it's also hard to hear some days. More recently, I have been noticing it with my earplugs in and I definitely notice it in the studio when I have my headphones on and no music playing. The enclosure of headphones can be unbearable at times. Although I will not give in to my tinnitus and stop doing what I love, it’s certainly getting worse as time goes on.

My tinnitus is quite high frequency, like bad white noise and ringing. Bizarrely, sometimes I can hear voices like a family member speaking to me or words being spoken. It doesn’t affect my family life but my little girl can be loud at times and has shouted a few times in my ears which can be painful. Lying in bed at night is definitely the worst if I concentrate on my tinnitus.

I left quite frustrated

In 2008, I visited my local hospital after speaking to my GP where I went into a soundproof room to test my hearing, which was unbearable! The end result was I that I have lost some hearing. Nothing else was really suggested back then or any help other than a hearing aid white noise generator, which at 27 did not go down well with me and I left quite frustrated. I’m quite a strong-willed person so I just decided to learn to live with it and maybe look at some sort of treatment in the future as I get older and technology advances, or I may look at alternative therapies.

I meditate daily

One thing that does help me and has for the past few years is meditation. I meditate daily and that time out does help calm the mind in today's busy world.

When my tinnitus started, I thought it was game over for my music career, that I would have to give up DJing and producing music. Luckily this has not been the case and it's pushed me to work harder. Pre-pandemic, I still had regular gigs and one good thing to come out of lockdown is a regular slot on LDC Radio in Leeds. My hobby is not ideal for a tinnitus sufferer, but I refuse to let this get in my way.

The ironic part of my story is I first found out about the BTA through my job as a printer. I have regularly printed the magazine you are reading for many years. Apart from the writers and editors, I’m usually the first to read it! The BTA has helped me get a lot of insight into tinnitus and see I’m not alone.

My plans for the future are keep on with my music as I’ve been in love with dance music since the mid-90s. Music is in my soul, and I refuse to let this condition stand in my way.

The importance of earplugs

Hopefully in the future we will see a breakthrough in medicine or therapy for all tinnitus sufferers, but my word of advice to everyone is wear earplugs! I wish I could go back in time to speak to the 20-year-old me and stress the importance of earplugs. I wear my plugs every day and think every music fan needs to invest in a pair.

Look after your hearing: you only get one set of ears!

Tackling tinnitus by yourself can be daunting and can make you feel isolated and alone. The British Tinnitus Association can offer support through our freephone helpline, email, SMS/text and web chat services. Our tinnitus support team has many years of experience supporting people with tinnitus and all our support services are free. 

You can access the British Tinnitus Association's support services via: 

Freephone helpline: 0800 018 0527  

Web chat:  

Email: [email protected]   

Text/SMS: 07537 416841