Tinnitus patients often feel marginalized. © Fotolia

Living with tinnitus

More than 11 million people in Germany have tinnitus. Here some of them tell us their story: how it came to be and how they have been living with tinnitus ever since.

“I just got tinnitus after a DJ gig, about one month ago. I guess it wouldn´t happen over night - until it happened. I’m still in critical stage. I find it most difficult transitioning between active and relaxed brain states. I’ve never been great at meditation but my goal is to improve. I’m currently in a pretty hopeless place, but I know that moods and stress can change with time.”                                                                                                           Daniel, 30, male

“I was diagnosed with Menière's disease when I was 34. I had two episodes of hearing loss after having a respiratory/sinus infection. At first, my ENT doctor thought it was just sudden hearing loss, but then I started having vertigo.  I have lost 70% of my hearing in my left ear and I have constant tinnitus. It´s not easy to manage but wearing adjustable hearing aids and earplugs helps me a lot. I feel peace since I accepted my tinnitus and I try to stay positive.”                                                                                                                                                    Nichole Williams, 42, female

"In 2009, I had a strong flu accompanied by nasty noises in my ears.  My doctor said it would disappear after the flu - but it didn´t and I've got it for 10 years now, changing from quiet to loud and vice-versa. So far nothing has helped but distraction. I resigned myself to live with tinnitus forever - it even has a name: Titus Balthasar. He´s a part of me that I have accepted."                                                                                                                            Tina, 57, female

"I got my tinnitus when I was 24 years old. In addition to the constant drone, I suffer from depression and several other physical symptoms. After many years I got the diagnosis "Pseudo Tumor Cerebrie" – a cerebral pressure that is probably the trigger for my tinnitus.  Tinnitus can have various causes, mine was found very late. But the treatments and the meetings with others affected by tinnitus in self-help groups made me feel a little better."
55 years old, female

"The crackling in my left ear came suddenly and the sound hasn’t gone since then. I got a stress-related hearing loss in 2015 and have been trying to fight the tinnitus with therapies, music, sports and mindfulness exercises. I try to find out which situations amplify the sound and I still have not given up the hope of finally defeating tinnitus. The worst thing is: you can´t see whether people are affected or not."
Daniela, 36, female

"I've had bilateral tinnitus for five years. After an operation as an infant I hear almost nothing with my right ear, but I have got used to it. Only the whistling in both ears can be very annoying. So far nothing could help me and I don't feel like experimenting anymore."
Kolokotroni, female

"Tinnitus came 15 years ago and is probably the result of a bicycle accident with a whiplash trauma. I tried everything: numerous visits to the doctor, physiotherapy and psychotherapy, rehabilitation, acupuncture, alternative methods, noisers and much more. Unfortunately, nothing could help me so far, only wearing a hearing aid, spending time outside with my dog or enjoying my hobbies reduce the tinnitus. The permanent sound has changed me a lot; I live more withdrawn and am no longer resilient."
Hedda, 64, female

After a bicycle accident with five fractures in the face I´m suffering from tinnitus. That first month was the worst month of my life, it was hard to adapt to this new “ghost friend”. I believe that playing sports all my life has helped me cope with tinnitus and its levels of frustration. I want to believe that in a short or medium term a cure will help, because I have been without silence for two and a half years. Meanwhile, I keep looking for emotional and physical methods for me to get on with my tinnitus.”
Josy Manriquez, 37, from Chile

“I’ve had Tinnitus since I was 15 years old, I do not remember the days of silence nor how this started. Today, after 29 years with this friendly snail, I know that I have learned that without stress tinnitus is bearable, and that exercise and a healthy life help a lot to go through the less pleasant days. And that the family and the love that they give me is enough for me to face this every day. We need to have faith and one day there will be a cure, I am sure.”
Rony Manriquez, 44, from Chile

Meet Rony on social media:

"After a loud rock concert, I received the diagnosis noise trauma at the age of 18. The result: chronical tinnitus. I felt totally paralysed, because I love going to concerts and parties - especially because I´m singing in a few bands.  But with tinnitus, making music was taboo in the beginning. Now I only perform on stage wearing hearing protection (in-ears). I've accepted my tinnitus and don't allow it to diminish my passion for music or life."
Inge, 25, student

Meet Inge on Facebook:Living with tinnitus

"I got my tinnitus nine years ago after one of many sinus infections. In the beginning I could cope with it, but it got worse and worse until I had the feeling that my life couldn't go on like this. I suffered from depressions and withdrew more and more, quit my job and became less active. At some point I decided to follow the “Camino de Santiago” and to take my life back in my own hands. Since then I've been feeling much better and I've learned to live with tinnitus and think positively."
Maria-Magdalena Mailhamer, 33, social worker/teacher

Please find more about Maria-Magdalena:

"I've been suffering from tinnitus for 15 years. Now I'm 22, I still don't know the trigger and there aren´t any new insights from the visits to the doctor. Four years ago it became worse and in addition I couldn’t fall asleep and concentrate anymore, so I started with yoga, meditation and relaxation exercises. These and the additional weight training help me to block out the ringing in my ears for a while. I try to get through every day."
Thomas Weber, photographer