Peta has the drive to help tinnitus sufferers
LIFE was rubbish for Bolton Council recycling wagon driver Peta Booth when tinnitus struck.
The Bolton Council employee could not sleep and the constant noise in her head was affecting her concentration at work “and that’s serious when you’re dealing with the safety of colleagues and the public,” she said.
Ms Booth has managed to get relief with the help of a groundbreaking management system using a hearing aid and soothing music.
And now she is helping with the launch of a new Bolton support group tomorrow for fellow sufferers because she knows that the problem badly affects quality of life.
An estimated 27,000 people in the Bolton area have persistent tinnitus — sounds in the head like ringing, buzzing, whooshing, clicking or even music which have no external source.
“It is a major problem,” said Christine Flanagan, a hearing aid audiologist with her own Bolton company, Personal Hearing Solutions.
She has many clients suffering from tinnitus and offered to found the new local group on behalf of the British Tinnitus Association.
It meets for the first time this week at 7pm at the Delph Hill Community Annexe (old scout hut) of the North Bolton Methodist Mission in Chorley Old Road.
She said: “Unlike Peta, most people who come to me for help come about their hearing loss and then mention that they have tinnitus.”
Ms Booth, a 57-year-old from Horwich, lost the hearing in her right ear suddenly 20 years ago.
She said: “I woke up one morning and it was gone. Looking back, I could see that I’d been missing bits of conversations for a while but then there was suddenly nothing at all.”
Tests showed that she had what is classed as “an unaidable ear” and nothing could be done. “I just learned to live with it,” said Ms Booth, who has a son and grandchild.
Around a year ago, however, she suddenly started with an unnerving whooshing sound in her ear.
“I’d had a particularly anxious time around then and noticed this noise,” she said. “It just seemed to get louder and louder and in the end I couldn’t sleep properly and my concentration was shot. It was very upsetting.”
Ms Flanagan had heard of a new system of “distracting” the tinnitus with soothing, non-repetitive music in a special hearing aid. “And I used Peta as my test case,” she said.
Ms Booth has found that this really helps.
“The music is just there, in the background, but it’s relaxing and means I can concentrate, and I’m able to get proper sleep,” she said.
Stress can be a major factor in tinnitus starting, said Ms Flanagan.
“The fact that it appears that little can be done to help worries and distresses people even more,” she added. “What people need to know is that there is help available, whether it’s an individual management programme or a local support group. There are solutions.”
Claire Arthur from the BTA, who is attending the new group’s first meeting, said: “Tinnitus can be an isolating condition, with friends and family struggling to understand how it feels to adapt to the presence of loud or persistent noises.
“Some people choose to bring a partner or family member to their group which can often help both parties understand more about the condition and the experiences or behaviours it can bring.”
l For details about the new support group contact Christine on 01204 227988.
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