Inverurie man thanks thanks audiologist who saved his life after suffering from tinnitus for ten years
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An Inverurie man endured 10 years of debilitating tinnitus which "ruled his life" until his local Specsavers audiologist helped cut the noise he experienced by 80 percent by fitting him with hearing aids.
As Tinnitus Awareness Week (February 1-7) kicks off, Scott Fraser, 47 from Inverurie, tells his story.
He said: "Tinnitus is such a difficult thing to talk to people about.
"The noises are in your head so it’s very difficult to convey to others just how bad it can be.
"It is very isolating.
"I’ve suffered with tinnitus for the past ten years and it has got progressively worse during that period to the point, eight months ago, that it was becoming unbearable.
"I’ve always worked in noisy environments in the oil and gas industry, as well as in music, which might have contributed to the onset of tinnitus.
"I also remember one particular instance when I was on a plane to South America.
"I put on my head phones to listen to music and the volume was turned up far too loud.
"It left a noise in my ear and I wondered then if it had done some damage.
"Tinnitus has ruled my life.
"It is especially bad at night, which has meant I struggle to sleep.
"There can be different noises that tinnitus sufferers hear - mine is a high pitched squeal."
He spent a long time exploring different treatments, including meditation and mindfulness, but nothing seemed to work for his tinnitus.
Continuing Scott said: "Through Tinnitus UK forums, I discovered that hearing aids could help alleviate the symptoms and booked an appointment to see my local audiologist, Ian Mclellan at Specsavers in Inverurie, although I didn’t hold out much hope of success.
"Ian worked closely with me, not only to find the right hearing aids for me, but to help me better understand tinnitus and equip me with the right knowledge to manage it.
"The hearing aids have made a massive difference, reducing my tinnitus by around 80 percent.
"Ian honestly saved my life.
"At the point I went to see him, it was really bad and I was struggling to cope with it.
"It is an invisible symptom but it made my life hell.
"People don’t think to protect their ears until it’s too late and the damage has been done."
Audiology director for all Specsavers stores in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Ian Mclellan said: "Helping people is the main reason I do my job, so to hear about the difference I’ve made to Scott’s life is wonderful.
"People often don’t know much about tinnitus or who to turn to in order to help manage the symptoms.
"It's not always clear what causes tinnitus, it's more often linked with hearing loss with up to 90 percent of people with the condition having some level of noise-induced hearing loss.
"It is often called ringing in the ears, but it can be buzzing, hissing, whistling or any sound."
He explains that prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the most common cause of tinnitus but wearing hearing protection in noisy working environments and being mindful of volume while wearing headphones can make a big difference, and said: "Scott’s case highlights the terrible impact it can have on your life, so it’s important that everyone takes care of their hearing to reduce the risk.
"Hearing aids are the most successful treatment for tinnitus, they help mask the noise in your head by correcting the hearing loss and this is exactly what has happened in Scott’s case."
Specsavers chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, explains that different support is available to people depending on their tinnitus symptoms.
He said: "If you have symptoms of tinnitus where the sound is pulsating or in just one ear, our advice would be to discuss this with your GP.
"If you have symptoms of both tinnitus and hearing loss, the use of hearing aids is often successful in managing and improving your symptoms.
"Our expert audiologists would be happy to provide a free hearing test to help you understand more about your hearing, what steps you can take and the best hearing aid options for you.
"For any who has symptoms of tinnitus but doesn’t have a hearing loss, there are many techniques to help manage or alleviate tinnitus.
"A great source of information and support can be found at the British Tinnitus Association website, www.tinnitus.org.uk."