Jan's story

Jan Dawson was diagnosed with Ménière's disease a few years ago. She also has hearing loss and tinnitus. Jan talks about how time and being positive has helped her get used to the condition.

"It wasn't long after I'd moved into a new, much quieter house in Edinburgh when I noticed a strange noise in my ear, a bit like a radio transmitter. It started fairly quietly but then gradually got more noticeable. I was only 27.

"It worried me because I'd also been hearing heartbeat-like noises in my other ear. I'd had that on and off since I was small. I went to my GP to get it checked out and was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist. After some hearing tests, I was diagnosed with Ménière's disease with symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss.

"I remember thinking, 'Surely I'm too young to get tinnitus?' and wondered how I was going to cope with this ringing in my ears for the rest of my life. It was really upsetting as I was told there was no cure.

"As well as my tinnitus I have low-level hearing loss, which means I struggle to hear people, especially in work meetings. I keep being tested for hearing loss and it hasn't got any worse, but I think the tinnitus might be getting louder.

"It's there in the background all the time. I notice it more when I'm stressed. That's when I think it gets a bit louder. It's a high-pitched noise that changes randomly and sounds like someone trying to tune a radio.

"I've got used to my tinnitus. It's not so loud that it stops me hearing everything that's going on. And when there's lots of other background noise, I don't really hear it.

"I still go to clubs where there is loud music, but I wear a special set of earplugs to protect my hearing. I love listening to music on my iPod. When I play it with the volume low, I drown out the tinnitus and get some relief.

"I don't take any treatments for tinnitus, but I try not to get too stressed. I now have a 17-month-old daughter and was warned that the Ménière's might worsen during pregnancy, but luckily this didn't happen.

"Being positive is the key. If you let the condition get to you, like I did at the beginning, you start to think about it all the time and notice it a lot more. If you can learn to live with it, then it makes life a lot easier."

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2015
Next review due: 31/03/2018