Tinnitus might not be a household word; however, its definition — ringing in the ears — is a growing problem.
“I do a lot of tinnitus counselling,” says Lindsay Satchell, owner and manager of Woodland Tinnitus and Hearing Clinic. “It’s basically my specialty. I go to the U.S. and take whatever courses I can there because the U.S. is where you learn the most about it because they have all the war vets,” War vets, she explains, have the largest number of ringing in their ears so the U.S. government spends large amounts of money trying to make them better.
Modern wars continue to have an effect, as did both world wars, because of guns.
In the Cariboo it’s logging that’s the culprit.
There are not many things a person can do to stop the ringing; however, dietary changes such as cutting back salt, caffeine, cheese and red wine have proven to be helpful.
“You have to learn to live with it too. People come in and say they’re going to fight it, but you can’t. It’s part of who we are.
“We don’t know as much about it as we think because we only found out a few years ago that it comes from the brain, not the ears. It’s the brain signalling back to the ears that something’s wrong.”
Three years ago she decided she would concentrate more on tinnitus.
“On and off I’ve been working in the field of hearing problems for the last 12 years. My own tinnitus came from farming, driving tractors and things in Ontario.”
It can worsen with hearing loss and aging and for the most part is more bothersome for males, although there are some women affected, she says.
Satchell’s husband is also plagued with tinnitus.
“I would like to cure him, but I really don’t think there’s a cure, just things you can do to lessen it.”
He’s a trucker and hunter and a lightening shot once got him as well — three strikes Satchell figures led to the ringing in his ears.
“There are some people that it actually affects their quality of life and my husband is one of them.”
It interrupts sleep, concentration and even changes people’s moods. It can be so debilitating that after the Second World War some soldiers were asked if they wanted to have their hearing nerves severed to take care of the ringing and many said “yes.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t from the ear so we did the surgery. They woke up deaf, or non-functional, and still had tinnatus,” Satchell says, adding some war vets from Iraq and Iran have even committed suicide, which is why the U.S. is putting money into research.
When she was last in the U.S., some researchers there were really stressed because one of their test subjects had committed suicide.
The number of clients continues to grow steadily, keeping the clinic “extremely” busy.
“We have a mobile lab where Dwight does site testing at industrial sites and my big focus right now is public speaking. I go out and about and do free public speaking on hearing loss and tinnitus or whatever anyone wants me to talk about,” she says, adding the public speaking is turning out to be the best way to contact people.
Whether it’s a nursing home or a meeting, Satchell and her staff are there to spread the word.
“I go into schools, anywhere that wants to learn about hearing loss. Three of us go. We love it and actually really enjoy it a lot.”
When people come in to have tests and she knows they’re not wearing hearing protection, Satchell will embark on a big discussion with them to help them understand the risks.
Satchell recently purchased the hearing equipment from Lens Cutters in Williams Lake.
At an open house held May 26, Satchell and her staff — husband Dwight Satchell, Sandra Brigden and Dina Blake — welcomed visitors to the new clinic located in the lower level of Yorston Medical Clinic building at 143 Fourth Ave. South.