A soldier whose hearing was irrevocably damaged while serving in Afghanistan is encouraging others to seek help after finding a treatment at The Tinnitus Clinic that has helped him manage his 'horrendous’ tinnitus to the point where he barely notices it.
Tom Price was working in a private security role when the building he was in was attacked by Taliban suicide bombers for six hours. The continuous fire from rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), pistols and assault rifles meant he was exposed to noise levels which caused him immediate and permanent inner ear damage.
To mark Armed Forces Day, 24 June, the 37-year-old from Northern Ireland is keen to ensure others seek treatment, after Tinnitus Desensitisation Therapy (TDT) from The Tinnitus Clinic in Bristol led to a significant reduction in the severity of his ‘extreme’ condition.
Tom said: “When the tinnitus first started it was horrendous. It sounded like air rushing out of a tyre, I couldn’t sleep for days and I felt like I was losing the plot."
“After the incident, I left Afghanistan and moved to Spain where I visited a newly opened clinic. They fitted me with two devices to manage the tinnitus and a hearing aid. These definitely helped but I still had problems, for example, from the sound of the wind and passing traffic."
“I continued to live with the symptoms for a few years more and in 2015, I finally found The Tinnitus Clinic in Bristol. Their level of experience, and the speed at which they helped me, was brilliant."
“Kathryn at the clinic treated me with a ‘combination device’ which delivers the Tinnitus Desensitisation Therapy and can also be set up to work as a hearing aid when I need it."
“Within two days I felt pretty much back to normal – I barely notice it now."
“The best bit of advice I would give to anyone and everyone suffering from tinnitus is - you don’t have to live with it. I had an extreme case and I was able to get help and treatment. I would recommend The Tinnitus Clinic 100 per cent."
According to the Royal British Legion, one in four Service members returning from conflicts complains of hearing loss and/or tinnitus. More than 40 per cent said their tinnitus symptoms had a “significant effect” on their quality of life.
Kathryn Paynter, an audiologist at The Tinnitus Clinic in Bristol and Cheltenham, said: “Armed forces personnel regularly seek help as hearing damage can occur following a physical injury or from external noise such as a bomb blast or using heavy machinery.
“At The Tinnitus Clinic we’re working with the Royal British Legion to promote the Veteran Hearing Fund (VHF). This provides funding support to veterans who acquired hearing loss during Service.
“Veterans are more than three times as likely to suffer from hearing loss than the general population, and while many people can use devices and treatments which are available from the NHS, for others a more specialist expert approach is needed.
“Whether you are 25 or 85 or whether you served in the Army, Navy or Air Force, we can help with specialist and individualised treatment for tinnitus, hyperacusis and noise induced hearing loss.”
Find out more information on funding from Veterans Hearing Fund (VHF) or call the Royal British Legion contact centre on 0808 802 8080.