Alessio Michelini Photography

Tinnitus: The Loud Silence

12 March 2015

This time I don't want to talk about photography, but I want to talk about a serious disease, that affect 1 out of 10 people in UK only: Tinnitus.
If you don't already have it, you probably don't know what it is, and often people who suffers of this hearing condition doesn't even know what it is.
Quoting Wikipedia, "Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the human ear ("ringing of the ears") when no external sound is present". If you ever been to a gig you probably got it for a day or two, sometimes it goes away earlier, sometimes it persists for various days, but most of the times it goes away. And that's probably why a lot of people just ignore it, they think it will always go away. But sometimes it doesn't, and I'm one of those people who now have this disease for the rest of our lives.
A lot of times I recommended to other fellow photographers at a gig to buy some earplugs, especially the young ones who just started to take photos at gigs, but they always smile at me and they reply with "Naah I'll be fine", "It will go away after a few hours", "I don't need them", etc...
That's exactly what I was thinking 6/7 years ago, when I started to photograph shows, I always thought it will go away the day after, but one day, after an insanely  loud gig of Dinosaur Jr, it didn't.

They simply don't understand that they might get a condition, that in some extreme cases, but not that rare, can ruin their life forever, and it's silly because decent earplugs are really cheap, you could spend 200 euro for professional ones moulded with your ear shape, which are great, but even the ER20, which are very cheap and they don't kill the sound but they just reduce the volume to acceptable levels, can do the job perfectly.

Tinnitus, over the years, could even get worst until you become deaf, so it's definitely something you should pay attention to.
You have no idea how sometimes it's annoying that little sound, that constantly hit your ears, that high pitch frequency I have every time I go to sleep, and there's nothing I can do about it, there's no cure for it. Once you get it, it's for life.
Like in my case, the only way I can sleep, it's to have a white noise, like an heater fan always turned on when I go to sleep (with a timer to switch it off after a while), because otherwise I can't simply sleep, it's a noise that can drive you crazy, and again, there's nothing I can do about it.
That's the noise I have to listen every night before I go to sleep just to cover the Tinnitus noise.

Do you really want to live like that? And remember, I have a mild case of Tinnitus, most of the times with white noise, or simply concentrating on something, like reading a book or playing with my tablet is enough to ignore that noise, but it can get much worst if you don't pay enough attention to this problem.

But that's not an advise I give only to music photographers, that's something that any punters, especially if you find yourself very close to the stage, should do. So unless you want to go to sleep having to hear a white noise every night just to not to listen to that bloody noise, please, use earplugs for God's sake.

For more information you can contact the Irish Tinnitus Association or the British Tinnitus Association.