Trigger Warning: Jamie talks about his personal story with tinnitus and there may be elements which could upset some people. If you need any support, contact us.
Jamie Laing – TV personality, podcaster and entrepreneur – woke up 8 years ago to a life-altering discovery. That April morning, as he frantically searched for the source of a sound in his London home, he was unaware that it would become an unwelcome and permanent companion.
The strange noise marked the onset of tinnitus, a condition where a person will hear a sound, such as ringing or buzzing, in the absence of an external source.
Jamie, like millions of others, has found tinnitus to be a lonely condition that many ironically suffer with silently. But he has hope for the future and is passionate about supporting RNID in their Silence Tinnitus campaign for Tinnitus Week 2024. Along with RNID, he is on a mission to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for over 7 million adults in the UK with the condition.
Here Jamie opens up about his journey with tinnitus – and why he’s keen to support RNID.
I haven’t heard silence for 8 years.
The very first time I ever heard tinnitus, I woke up one morning and got out of bed, and I could hear a whooshing, ringing noise. I was looking around, thinking: ‘where is this noise coming from?’ Then it suddenly dawned on me that it was inside my own mind, inside my head.
That, for anyone who’s ever experienced tinnitus, is a really scary moment.
So, I went to an audiologist and the audiologist said: ‘yes, you have tinnitus and it’s for life.’ And I sat on my sofa and I just thought: ‘this can’t be happening right now.’
You can’t imagine how debilitating it is. There’s no more silence. So you think you’re never going to sleep again. You think you’re never going to be able to hearing anything again, apart from this ringing – and that’s a pretty scary place to be.
How my tinnitus developed
I would spend a lot of time in nightclubs, but I never wore anything to protect my ears, ever. I should have done and [everyone] should be protecting their ears.
And second, I think my anxiety caused it to go even more. So I think mine was [caused by] a combination of the two.
What my tinnitus sounds like
So, my tinnitus sounds like a dog whistle, but with a whooshing noise as well so it’s like… [Jamie gestures to his ears] constant.
It takes me a lot to cry, and I was shooting a television show called Hunted, and in it, my tinnitus was so bad. People were asking me questions and I couldn’t hear what they were saying because the ringing was just so overbearing.
You’re always so scared that tinnitus is suddenly going to take over your whole mind, [that] all you’re going to hear is ringing for the rest of your life and you won’t hear anything else. It was so loud, that I was like: this is the moment. This is the moment my tinnitus is going to take over.
You want to scream. You want to literally rip your ears off.
How I manage my tinnitus
What I realised with tinnitus is that you have to try and treat it like a fan in the room or air conditioner – you can hear them, but you don’t lean into it.
Jamie debunks some common misconceptions about tinnitus.
Help to silence tinnitus today
“The amazing thing is RNID is doing some incredible work, and they’re trying to raise £12,500 for an amazing campaign. And, so, to anyone watching this right now: donating a fiver – anything you possibly have – will make the world of difference.
To hear silence again… to get rid of the ringing… I would do almost anything.
…. almost anything!”
Support tinnitus research
Image and video credits
All Jamie Laing content is credited to Junction Eleven Limited & RNID.