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Emily Varnam interviews Head of Content, Kimberley Bradshaw, about her intermittent tinnitus

Emily Varnam - Social Media & Customer Relations Manager
Written By:
Emily Varnam

Social Media & Customer Relations Manager

Updated and medically reviewed: 26th June 2024
Emily Interviews Kimberley Bradshaw - A Tinnitus Sufferer

Interviewing a Tinnitus Sufferer

Chatting with Kimberley Bradshaw, Head of Content, about the causes, triggers, and management strategies she uses


When did you first develop tinnitus? What were you doing? What did it feel like?

I have intermittent tinnitus, which comes and goes, however, I could pinpoint when I noticed my tinnitus (certainly the symptoms) around Easter four years ago.  It was during a really tough time, and I was struggling with all the complexities that it brings - I think this, in some way, triggered my tinnitus.

In reality, the symptoms might have started earlier but a lot was going on.  I'd just started working in the audiology industry, at Hearing Aid UK, around this time, and having a better education and awareness of tinnitus and the signs to look out for made me stop, acknowledge, and understand management strategies and techniques. 

So, I was lucky here, as I think education brings not just awareness but belonging too.  There are so many people out there with different variances of tinnitus who are suffering on different levels and aspects of their lives.  Knowing I could just reach out and feel inclusive was important to me.  Like most things, it’s important to relate and connect with people who suffer the same condition.

My new career move back then brought fresh opportunities and naturally personal hardships began to melt – but the tinnitus didn’t.  In a way, the damage had already been done and the tinnitus has remained ever since.


Can you describe your tinnitus symptoms and how it makes you feel?

Tinnitus is also known as ‘ringing in the ears,’ but it can also be hissing, roaring, or buzzing sounds in one ear or both ears.  Tinnitus can either be intermittent, like mine, or it might be continuous with variances in severity.  For instance, spontaneous, pulsing, or steady as well as soft and loud.

My tinnitus can come and go throughout the day as a steady sharp ring that presents itself in my right or left ear.  As I work from home, I do notice it as my environment is quieter than say an office space with the distracting buzz of chatter, keyboard tapping, and the latest brainstorming session.

Often, I can get by without the need to implement techniques, but some days, depending on the volume, it makes me feel very frustrated.  It’s at this point that my symptoms can worsen, and I then start to tap into my management strategies and coping mechanisms.

My type of tinnitus, as it stands, doesn’t require treatment such as hearing aids as my hearing hasn’t been affected, it comes and goes and my symptoms are currently manageable, but if that changes, I know how important seeking professional help is.  This is because a speedy diagnosis improves how successful treatment can be and the quality of your overall health and well-being you can have.


How does tinnitus impact your daily life?

Day to day, I know how to manage my symptoms.  My ringing sounds can be louder on some days more than others.  It’s like an old friend.  You know every part of them.  What makes them tick, what they don’t like, and how to support them.  I know one of my triggers is stress, like a work deadline or the build-up to an important event.  It’s times like these that tinnitus affects me the most. 

I tackle this by making sure that I plan my week ahead both personally and professionally.  I get organised and get on top of time management.  Although a simple tool, it gives me the foundation I need to start from, after that it is management strategies.


Have you ever been to the GP or audiologist? If so, when?  Have you found anything that's helped you?

I’m lucky enough to work in the audiology space, so I have a lot of resources and experts at my disposal.  I initially saw an audiologist I knew in September 2019 and got advice on treatment available, management techniques, tinnitus therapy apps, and online resources and forums. 

For me, I know that my symptoms are brought on by stress but it’s how I deal with stress that influences my symptoms, so I make sure I manage it the best way I can.  This means looking at nutrition and what I’m putting in my body, making sure I get enough exercise, and doing my best to prioritise sleep.

During the day, in the moment, I use distraction or tinnitus masking techniques and tinnitus therapies to reduce my symptoms.  These might be listening to white noise like water, other nature sounds, or meditation music.  These are purely distractions so I make sure the white noise isn’t louder than my symptoms, as this can worsen the volume and severity of the tinnitus I’m experiencing.

I go for a walk on my lunch break and simply take in my surroundings.  For me, mindfulness helps to relax and put things into perspective.  Tinnitus has an ugly way of manifesting so being more mindful of everything I do, such as walking through the park, can take the focus away from the tinnitus sounds.

At night, I like using Resound’s tinnitus relief app which has loads of useful therapy sounds I can tap into to help me wind down before I call it a night. 

Of course, stresses and strains will throw themselves at me throughout the day/week – that’s life.  But when my symptoms develop, I take the necessary actions to help relieve them which enables me to still work at my optimum and be the best wife and mother I can be.  It’s funny, I don’t seem to need strategies when my seven year old is at home!

I guess, overall, you could say I’m one of the lucky ones as I have, through my work, interviewed a gentleman whose tinnitus was so severe and consistent it drove him into a deep depression, and eventually he attempted suicide.  That was a difficult story to hear and write but it was an important one. 

In the end, he got the help and treatment he needed through hearing aids, support from his family, and friends, and a really good audiologist.  His life had a new purpose, and he authored a book about his journey and experiences. 

All tinnitus sufferers are different, they have their own story and how they manage it varies too.  Mine’s tame in comparison but it’s no less important.  There is no cure for tinnitus, for now, but with the right education and professional support, you will find what works for you.


Do you have support from anyone?

I’m lucky to have family, friends, and colleagues who are supportive and sensitive to my tinnitus.  Like me, they have a good knowledge of what I’m going through and what support and resources I need to manage my symptoms effectively.


Any memorable moments as a result of your tinnitus? Where were you and what happened?

I vividly remember going to a live gig and due to the volume of noise and general atmosphere, I really struggled with my tinnitus symptoms afterwards and hardly slept.  I’m sure most could relate to the buzzing sound you sometimes got coming home after clubbing in your youth.  It was like that but so much louder and relentless. 

After that, I started wearing ear protection to similar events, so I’m still able to enjoy the music experience but without the intense tinnitus aftermath.


How is your tinnitus now? What would you like to say to other sufferers?

Tinnitus is when you experience noises or ringing in your ears when no physical noise is present.  My tinnitus has stayed the same.  Whether that will change, I’m unsure but I will find other management techniques and coping mechanisms if it does to mirror the new symptoms. 

If you think you might have tinnitus, first seek medical help.  If you are diagnosed with tinnitus, you may or may not be recommended hearing aids, as they can correct any hearing loss present with the hope that they may also help reduce your tinnitus.

They will also go through any management techniques, masking therapies, and coping strategies.  There are so many things you can implement, and you will find your own way with them.  The best thing is to start educating yourself about tinnitus, especially your type of tinnitus.  As humans, we fear what we don’t understand, so education is key!

Once you have that awareness it will open doors and you can find useful resources online and discover chat forums so you can speak to like-minded people with the same condition as you.  You can slowly start to build up your own techniques and incorporate them within your existing lifestyle.

Such as learning how to control your internal stress, looking at your diet, fitness, and sleep, wearing ear protection in loud environments, looking at any resources your workplace can tap into to better support you, using tinnitus masking apps, and concentrating on other activities to take away the focus on tinnitus.

I don’t have all the answers and what works for me might not necessarily work for anyone else that has tinnitus.  However, your priority should always be seeking medical help first as this is where your needed treatment, awareness, and education begins.

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If you think you may have tinnitus, we recommend you speak with a hearing healthcare professional.  If you are diagnosed with tinnitus, you might be recommended hearing aids depending on whether there is any hearing loss present.

An audiologist will also take into consideration whether wearing hearing aids will reduce your tinnitus symptoms as well as guide you through various management techniques, masking therapies, and coping strategies.

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Meet Emily Varnam, Social Media & Customer Relations Manager

Emily feels her role, as our social media and customer relations manager is a rewarding one.  Where she's discovered a passion for educating people about hearing loss, seeing firsthand the incredible impact of new audiology technologies and how our audiologist network can help hearing healthcare. 

She is looking forward to learning more and meeting and supporting customers in the future.

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