Rebecca’s story | British Tinnitus Association

Rebecca shares her story about how the stress and anxiety of the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted on her experience of tinnitus.

“In 2000 I got an infection in my cochlea, this wiped out my hearing in my right ear. It also gave me balance issues and chronic tinnitus. I’m 29, so this has been the case for me for over two thirds of my life. In the last 20 years, the tinnitus has been a constant high pitched buzzing. It gets worse when I’m stressed, if I cry, have a cold, or during exposure to really loud music. It’s like it’s trying to compete.  

Since the Covid-19 pandemic it’s been completely different. I gave birth to my daughter on 16 March 2020, a week later the first lockdown was announced. With a new-born baby and a toddler, the stresses would be enough as it is, but I’ve been so worried about the virus. My whole family are key workers so they are all exposed. I’ve been scared about them contracting it, my stress levels have been so high. My sister and eldest brother both got Covid-19 through their work at the hospital. They are now recovered thankfully, but my sister is suffering from long Covid. When they had the virus my tinnitus was the loudest it’s ever been. I was so stressed, anxious and scared for them.

 My stress levels increase and my tinnitus gets louder

Since I returned to work after maternity leave in November, the tinnitus has been a bit more bearable because I’m more tired. Juggling working part-time as well as caring for our two young children, plus the commute to work, all contributes to me being tired. On the days I’m at work the tinnitus isn’t as noticeable, but I work in a laboratory that processes Covid swabs, so there isn’t any escape from it and I find that it makes my stress levels go through the roof. 

Tinnitus affects my sleep, my mood and relationships too. My husband and son both get frustrated having to repeat themselves so much, which makes me so sad. Then my stress levels increase and my tinnitus gets louder. A horrible vicious circle. Covid is making it so much worse. I’ve read online that some people have experienced ear problems after contracting the virus, which scares me as I only have one working ear, I don’t want to lose my hearing completely and feel more isolated.

Face masks have also contributed to my anxiety. With masks on speech can be muffled, and I’m unable to lip read, which makes me stressed out and frustrated that I often want to cry and this exacerbates the tinnitus – it’s a vicious circle. 

 The BTA has helped me so much knowing that I am not alone

Luckily I don’t notice the tinnitus that much during the day. It’s only at night I hear it more. I’m so tired I tend to fall asleep quickly without it bothering me. I have cros-aids, that help to trick my brain while I’m out and about, and I also use a sound machine app on my phone, with rain and thunder sounds when I go to bed.

Since talking about my tinnitus, I’ve seen other people commenting on social media with the same issues and it’s made me feel so much better. The BTA has helped me so much knowing that I am not alone. Reading comments or an article with people in the same situation makes me feel less isolated and I can cope better.

My advice to others is you should talk about it with everyone you know. There might be someone you’re close with that suffers too that hasn’t told you and you can help each other. Talking really does help. Whether it’s in person, or over the internet.”

If you need to talk about tinnitus, our Tinnitus Support Team is here for you. Our phone, web chat, email and text services are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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