Hearing Link

Passion for cycling helps tinnitus sufferer live with condition

TIM LYE has one message for his tinnitus — on your bike.

The 41-year-old, who has mild tinnitus in one ear and severe in the other, found his life altered by the condition, but is now learning to live with it thanks to finding a passion for cycling. Tim, from Derby, has had mild tinnitus in his right ear since he was at university, something he put down to over-exuberant student years, clubbing and spending time in loud, noisy places. He coped with the ringing in his ear for many years until 2007, when it suddenly got worse.

Tim explains: “I was working in Singapore at the time and woke up following a night out and the noise in my ears was suddenly louder, it was very notable and really annoying. I thought it would ease off as the day went on but it didn’t. It started to affect the way I was at work and at home. It made concentration and sleep very difficult. When I returned to the UK to live, I saw a specialist who said that my hearing level had dropped and sent me for an MRI scan. This identified a tumour in my ear canal called an acoustic neuroma.”

“I had surgery to remove the tumour and lost all hearing on my right side, while a clipped nerve left me with facial paralysis. The loss of hearing affected my balance and walking — something I’d done with no problem for decades became difficult. It took 11 months for me to be able to return to work and thankfully my employers, a large manufacturing company, were very understanding and helped with reduced hours until I was able to work full-time again. But six months after the operation my tinnitus became very real,” reveals Tim.

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