About James Jackson
Dr James Jackson from Leeds Trinity University was the main presenter at THIS 2018 (Tinnitus and Hearing Information Show). He is also involved in research for the British Tinnitus Association. James has had tinnitus since he was a child. He then experienced a sudden severe loss of hearing whilst studying at university. James was able to bring a depth of personal and professional insight to the show. He was extremely well received.
James is interested in the Biopsychosocial model. This states that empowering people can lessen the effect of their condition. His support of the event and his talks echoed this core belief. Improved understanding, new technology and a willingness to engage are vital. They can help people with tinnitus and hearing issues to improve their quality of life.
This is a video interview with David Cruikshank in which James Jackson discusses various aspects of tinnitus. Craig Neilson and partner Suzie Graham also gave their views on the event. A transcript appears below.
Is there a crisis in hearing loss and tinnitus in the UK?
I would say we’re heading towards one. So you’ve got the idea that the Baby Boomers are getting older, the younger people today with iPods and iPhones so there’s more music in headphones. If someone walks past and you can hear their music, they’re damaging their ears. So, it will be that, imagine that in ten years time, twenty years time, thirty years time, especially considering people are living longer, you’ll probably see more hearing loss and we’ll see more tinnitus than we see right now.
What do you hope people will get out of today’s event?
Well, I’m just kind of hoping that people might be able to take away something, a tip or something. When someone says something in a certain way you think, “oh, that makes sense. That fits with me.” So certainly, the talk that I gave earlier was about the idea that people do sit there, thinking that their tinnitus is getting worse. But what it really is, people are getting more anxious about their tinnitus and are paying more attention to it. So arguably that means if you can become less anxious your tinnitus will seem to get better. So it works both ways. But, people have got to be aware of what’s going on, so, if anything, information about what tinnitus actually is.
What do you say to people who are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus or hearing loss?
The one thing…first of all, I have it and the fact that I went through a phase of not being able to cope with it, and then I came out of the other side. It didn’t change. My hearing loss hasn’t changed, the level of deafness I had, hasn’t changed. What I thought about it has changed. So again, rather than seeing it as something that is happening to you, you’ve got to “suck it up”, that is the idea that there are things you can do to make it better. Having said that, you can never make it go away, but you can make it so that you don’t care about it. Now some people are surprised by that. “I have tinnitus, I hear it every day, and I don’t care, but ten years ago I did.” and you find you can change these things.
Will we ever find a cure for tinnitus?
I don’t know, because if you start to think about the damage. There are some interesting things coming out now when they find out that there were certain drugs used in chemotherapy, which tends to results in people developing tinnitus as a side effect and you get a rapid ageing of the hair cells. It’s basically you get tinnitus you know…it speeds up. So as we understand that process and anything to do with you know, the chemical interactions, that you can start thinking about, years down the line, and probably some decades away, pharmacological interventions. But certainly, if we get a better understanding about what tinnitus is, we should think more about interventions that work
Personally, as a psychologist, I think that personality has a lot to do with it. With the idea that certain therapies work for some people, but less well for others. So, if you happen to try the wrong thing and it doesn’t work you might give up, but if only you’d tried something else you’d get some benefit. So I do think at the moment there’s a “one size fit all” and as we get a little bit more clever we think in terms of individualised treatments for individual people, I think we’ll see things get better.
Why not Glasgow? So I know for… a fact is my Dad was born in Glasgow, and I’ve always had a hankering to come back once in a while. I know that I went to university first of all in Scotland and I kind of missed it. So I just like the idea of actually being able to come up, help Alan, he’s a lovely guy, and just to simply come across more people. I drive around the north of England and see places like Ilkley and Manchester and all this. It is different, it is Scotland and I like it.
The following questions were addressed to tinnitus sufferer Craig Neilson and his partner Suzie Graham:
What’s the one positive you can take away from today’s THIS Scotland event?
Definitely, I would say not just one, there’s been a lot. As I say, talking to other people who suffer and just hearing their side and knowing that you’re not alone and one of the talks was “You Are Not Alone” but hearing somebody saying exactly the same as you’ve been through and how you cope with it and things like that and actually speaking to one guy who said he’s feeling different now from five months ago is a massive thing as well. So, fingers crossed!
Does it give you hope for the future?
Definitely, yeah definitely. Definitely, because it’s been…the last few months have been…the last few months have been really hard. It’s gradually getting worse and worse and worse and what James Jackson said as well. Things happening in your life…there’s things going on in life as well and it makes sense now that going- on in your life can make the tinnitus worse, because you’re getting more stressed out and that’s causing the tinnitus to be worse. So, yeah definitely.
Would you encourage other people to come to an event like this?
Oh, definitely. And I would encourage partners to go along as well because it’s actually nice to get… you know, to know that your partner’s got the support there too and it’s good for you to find out a bit more about it.