Posts Tagged 'tinnitus'


I was having a nice dream about being on board an ocean liner with Jeremy Irons last night, when my sun-kissed fantasy was intruded upon by the distant and rather incongruous sound of an alarm. I tried to ignore it for a while, but it was getting much louder.

“I’m sorry, Jeremy, I’ve got to go”, I said, looking longingly into his eyes and knocking back the last of my dry martini. I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t try to stop me leaving, and the next thing I knew, I was back in dreary Glasgow at 12:37am and a burglar alarm was going off somewhere. A particularly efficient and annoying burglar alarm.

I went to the window and did the usual pointless looking around outside, noting all the other shadowy figures standing at tenement windows in their nightclothes doing exactly the same thing. I was the only one cupping and uncupping my hands to my ears and swivelling my head as if doing a cheesy disco dance, though. Since I was dressed only in a shrunken t-shirt, I hastily returned to bed just in case anyone got the wrong idea.

“Wossahhhhtaaaaaamringnoise”, said the spouse as my head hit the pillow.



“Hammering noise…where?”

“OH, FOR GOD’S SAKE…IT DOESN’T MATTER”, came the grumpy reply.

Thanks to the spouse’s uncanny ability to hear through his earplugs, I now had a mental picture of a burglar on the prowl with a sledgehammer…perhaps an intruder had seen my bejewelled hearing aid covers on the internet and mistaken them for priceless artefacts…mmm, maybe not. Crimewatch UK would have to wait a while to feature that one. It was much more likely to be a false alarm coupled with some nocturnal clog dancing or something, and I hoped neither was about to become a regular occurrence.

Then I suddenly remembered the unused pair of earplugs I bought back in 2003. I got them after a drugged-up neighbour played Bono’s ‘One Love’ at full volume on a loop for eight hours. I swore I’d never go through that torture again.

I rummaged about in the dark until I found them and, although they were a little crusty to the touch after 8 years, they were still quite usable so I eagerly bunged them into the lugs and lay down. Result. Total silence. Well, apart from the alarmingly loud pounding of my heart in the left lug, and a familiar Minor Third chord ringing in the right.

After a couple of minutes, I opted to listen to the burglar alarm instead.

Nocturnal Noises

State of the art digital imaging techniques reveal the mysterious Beast of Queen's Park

I awoke rather prematurely at 3:41 am this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. The task was made even harder by some drunken eejit noisily and methodically dragging a stick back and forwards along the railings outside.

“Bloody hell, what’s that?” said the spouse eventually, sitting bolt upright in bed and pulling his earplugs out.

He leapt to the window to see if the railing percussionist was about to begin on the parked cars, but  the noise suddenly stopped, and mysteriously there was nobody in sight. As I fumbled for my glasses, the spouse said “Come and see this…”. Just as I got to the window, the noise started again and I could see a huge fox excitedly circling a neighbour’s car. Funny noise for a fox to make, I thought, but since his mouth wasn’t moving I deduced that some terrified and tasty creature of another species was hiding under the car and emitting an alarm call that bizarrely sounded like a stick on a railing.

Mr Fox circled his intended victim several times before sneakily going to hide in the bushes across the road to watch for the railing soundalike making an escape. I was impressed by his strategic thinking, but his road crossing skills were somewhat lacking and he narrowly escaped being flattened by passing cars several times as he repeated his routine.

He must have either succeeded in his plan or got fed up, because the strange noise stopped shortly after we went back to bed. I lay awake for the next three hours listening to the much more familiar noises in my head instead.

Red wine = headache + tinnitus

I’ve been suffering from serious sense of humour failure recently, and I think I may have found the cause. After a nice glass of the red wine last night, taken in the full knowledge that it doesn’t agree with me these days, I awoke from my slumbers at 3:15 am. My head was sore, the facial twitch was in full swing and the phantom pure tone generator in my right ear had been mysteriously turned up in volume while I slept.

As I tossed and turned for the next 4 hours and 45 minutes, I decided to pass the time by identifying the chord which the two familiar tones in my lug were making. Lo and behold, it’s a minor interval, made up of C6 and E flat 6 on the piano. If anyone out there has anything harmonically similar ringing in their lugs, let me know and we can form a duet.

Frequency wise, it nestles right in the centre of the 1kHz trough of the cookie bite. I hope my brain doesn’t decide to create any more phantom tones in all the other dud frequencies of the cookie bite in future, or my current two-note tinnitus will turn into the monstrous chord illustrated below:

cookiebite chord

Fortunately, my little sad sounding Minor Third chord is usually very quiet, but it has clearly been exerting a subliminal influence on my mood. I’ll ask for a major chord next time I’m stupid enough to drink red wine.

What burglar alarm?

In August 2009, out of the blue, I had a rip-roaring attack of tinnitus lasting a couple of days. Sounds were horribly distorted and when I played the piano, certain notes were sounding both at the correct pitch and an octave higher. When the cacophony inside my head eventually subsided, I felt my right ear was bunged up and that I couldn’t hear quite the same as before. The neighbours phoned up one evening to apologise for the noise from their burglar alarm which was currently going off. I hadn’t heard a thing.

I reckoned I must have a buildup of wax in the offending ear, so I got my GP to check.  She couldn’t find any wax, but she thought I might be bunged up from an allergy, so she gave me a nasal spray and told me to come back if it didn’t improve. It didn’t, but I wondered if it was all in my head, since I seemed to hear most things fine. On the way into work one day, I booked myself into Boots Hearing for a sneaky free hearing check so that I could see if the spray was working or not. After the test, the nice man who conducted it explained that it looked like I had some sensorineural hearing loss and that it was pretty much the same in both ears. It seemed Beconase nasal spray was not going to help. He said that aids were not geared up for my type of loss and that they might work for some things, or they might not. The only way to find out was to try them and see. Horrified, I made a sharp exit. Hearing aids were not quite what I had in mind as a fashion statement in my early forties. I made another appointment with my GP and was referred to ENT.

My appointment was scheduled for December.


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