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Djing with Tinnitus: How to prevent it

Tinnitus problem
Tinnitus problem

What is Tinnitus ?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.

How to prevent it ?

It's not always easy, especially when you're DJing, but you do become accustomed to them and should be used as often as possible. Be aware of how loud you have your monitors, headphones and speakers etc. Try not to put your ears under any unnecessary stress. Lifestyle and diet play a role in tinnitus:

Avoid possible irritants. Reduce your exposure to things that may make your tinnitus worse. Common examples include loud noises, caffeine and nicotine.

Cover up the noise. In a quiet setting, a fan, soft music or low-volume radio static may help mask the noise from tinnitus.

Manage stress. Stress can make tinnitus worse. Stress management, whether through relaxation therapy, biofeedback or exercise, may provide some relief.

Reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the force of your blood by dilating your blood vessels, causing greater blood flow, especially in the inner ear area.

I’m a DJ who has tinnitus – and I refuse to let it beat me

Andy Purnell DJing
Andy Purnell DJing

Andy Purnell is a DJ and he speaks about his condition:

“This terrible affliction could severely damage my quality of life, but I can’t sacrifice the thing that makes me happiest”.

I have not been able to hear silence for about four years now. The high-pitched whining that you may temporarily hear after you leave a gig is, for me, a permanent fixture. The worst thing about this is that regardless of the ear protection that I use religiously when DJing these days, I will never be able to repair the damage that’s been done. In fact, if I continue to DJ, my condition will deteriorate: I find this terrifying.

From the moment that I realized the temporary ringing in my ears was no longer temporary, I have been haunted by an image of myself in which I am sitting with my (yet to be created) children, unable to hear a word they say. Is the excessively loud – and often painful – conversation that you have with a partially deaf, elderly relative the type of interaction I’m doomed to have with my children? I sincerely hope not. But the persistent ringing in my ears is a constant reminder that it could be.

Two years ago, fear was a big factor in my decision to give up my DJing job. It’s not every day that a hip-hop DJ hangs up his headphones to take on a career in the city, but with the longer term in mind, it seemed to make sense at the time. Surprise, surprise though: it proved it to be the wrong choice and I’ve recently gone back to my former passion.

So what does this demonstrate? Even mild tinnitus can alter your outlook and push you to make the wrong decision. I sacrificed the thing that makes me happiest to embark on a career that made me truly miserable.

Andy Purnell DJing
Andy Purnell DJing

From September there are likely to be weeks when I am DJing daily, often twice a day: I have a residency at Ministry of Sound, which has one of the loudest speaker systems in the UK. My spare time is filled with practicing in my home studio, listening to new music and checking out artists and other DJs in loud venues. So I will never be able to stop worrying about my tinnitus and my increasing inability to hear silence.

Should I reach a level of hearing damage that makes me hate my own life again, I know it will be my own fault. I’ll always feel anxious about the outcome of my decision to return to DJing and each time I pick up my headphones, I have a feeling of guilt.

Given my awareness of the potential severity of the condition, I take every precaution. Nonetheless, fear of tinnitus now prevents me from truly enjoying the thing that makes me happiest: playing music.

Read more at The Guardian


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