Considering a Teaching Career — Should I Give Up on the Dream Job Because of Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Sarah93, May 28, 2021.

    1. Sarah93

      Sarah93 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hello all,

      New here. I’m 28 and have had tinnitus for the last 10 years. It hasn’t bothered me at all in the last 9 years, though I know it hasn’t been away.

      Recently I started considering a career switch to teaching primary school. It’s been my dream job for the last 10 years (ever since I thought my first tinnitus-related depression was actually caused by a bad choice in higher education studies, which I continued anyway as at the time my depression got better before the end of the school year and I thought ‘I can always switch to teaching later on’.)

      Of course, for the past weeks/days my tinnitus has been worse, simply because I’m thinking about it and wondering how much worse it will get when I start teaching. It’s always been quite loud and high pitched but I’ve been able to ignore it perfectly for the last 9 years, even in quiet spaces and at night. I just don’t try to ‘listen to the silence’ and I don’t use earplugs at night (only in loud places).

      Now I’m seriously in doubt: should I give up on my dream job out of fear my tinnitus will get worse? Stick with a boring desk job that’s detrimental for the rest of my body, and risk getting depressed for other reasons than tinnitus? Or try it anyway and hope I will stay sane until retirement age? I’m just afraid some day my tinnitus will be so loud I won’t be able to hear or function or live properly. Is it worth the risk?

      Any experiences from (former) teachers? Are classrooms really that loud? Can it be a ‘safe’ job if you use good earplugs and good class management? I’m desperately hoping so, because I was super excited until I started worrying about this annoying little yet possibly big problem . :(

      Thanks in advance for your advice!

      Sarah
       
    2. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Large caliber rifles&machine guns, +30 years of loud clubs
      What is the cause of your tinnitus? Unless it's noise trauma or damage from ototoxic meds/infections etc, I would not worry about regular classroom noise. We all have been to school and no one got hearing loss due to just being in classrooms.

      This being said, I wish they taught more about the danger of hearing loss and PERMANENT tinnitus in school.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Christiaan
      Inspired

      Christiaan Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      The Hague, the Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2016: headphones, 2020: worsened thanks to Rammstein
      Hi Sarah93,

      Former teacher here. I actually taught English & French at a secondary school, though I had to quit due to worsening of my tinnitus (not school related BTW).

      In my experience, it can be quite noisy sometimes, especially when children are just coming back from recess or when you are tasked to patrol the schoolyard during break. Another thing is that you sometimes need to raise your voice to draw attention or correct someone's behaviour.

      I assume that this is not different than what you could encounter at a primary school. So be sure to carry earplugs at all times when you get into tough/loud situations.

      I hope I don't discourage you of pursuing your dream. Teaching is one of the best things that I have experienced in my life and I personally know a few teachers with mild tinnitus who can get the job done. And if these people can do it, I'm sure you can pull it off as well (y)
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sarah93

      Sarah93 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you both for your replies!

      @Bobby B, it’s most likely caused by loud music at a local festival. I had lost my cheap earplugs at another party a few weeks before that, where I stood quite close to the boxes, but I had no lasting damage yet at that point. Then after the festival a few weeks later the noise never stopped. Isn’t that a type of noise trauma?

      I had actually already been thinking about ways to ‘convince’ the children in my class to be quiet, and I’d read about decibel meters that light up red when the noise is too loud, so I thought I could use that and combine it with a little lesson about sound damage and the importance of ear protection during the first week of each school year. :) I don’t think it would work with first years, but 3th or 4th grade kids might actually learn and remember something from it.

      @Christiaan, not discouraging at all! I already suspected hallways and playgrounds would require ear protection at least, but that’s an easy sacrifice. I was mostly wondering about the classrooms themselves, as primary school children don’t have very long attention spans yet, so they’ll need a lot of interactive exercises in between, and when 25-30 kids talk at the same time, I guess the decibels will add up. I imagine it’s something that can be solved with good class management, but I’ve read so many negative things about hearing damage among teachers that I wonder if I’m underestimating it.

      I’m not particularly sensitive to noise itself, only very much aware of the damage it can do. My voice is another one of my weak points, as it’s naturally rather quiet, so I will probably use alternative methods to gain the kids’ attention whenever I can. I’ve read somewhere that speaking quietly sometimes works better because that way they have to be quiet to understand what you’re saying. (But of course you need to already have their respect and a little bit of ‘fear’ for that to work. :))
       
      • Like Like x 1
    5. glynis
      Feminine

      glynis Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meniere's Disease
      I worked in a primary school for nearly 25 years. I have severe bilateral tinnitus.

      Give it a try. Follow your dream.

      Love,
      Glynis
       
      • Like Like x 2
    6. twa
      Busy

      twa Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017- mild /Sept. 2020-moderate
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      meds/acoustic trauma
      Hi Sarah,

      I have 19 years experience in education. Education is very loud by nature, especially if you teach at the elementary or primary level. The loudest times are when students are in large groups, like transition times in the hallway, the cafeteria or recess. We had assemblies in the cafeteria and gym that were very noisy with bullhorns, noisemakers and music. A concern is not so much the students, but other teachers are loud. In every school I have been in the other teachers would yell at the class to be heard, whether it's in the hallway, cafeteria or outside at dismissal.

      Another consideration is your exposure to germs. The entire time I was in the elementary classroom (12 years), I was consistently sick. Children are incubators for every virus, especially respiratory viruses. Respiratory viruses would start for me with my ears hurting. I do not discount the fact that these illnesses had an impact on my auditory and immune system years later. You may never get sick, then it's a non-issue.

      I do think each person should follow their dreams, but I also believe one should weigh the cost. If you know it will be a loud environment going into the profession you can make a well informed decision. I loved every moment of teaching, more so than administration. I wish you the best in making your decision.

      twa
       
      • Like Like x 1
    7. Simon85

      Simon85 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Nov 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably noise exposure, but unknown.
      I think this is only something you can answer. That being said, that’s a lot of power to give tinnitus over you - to let it stop you from following your dreams. There are plenty of musicians who’ve had tinnitus for decades and keep on performing. I suspect certain activities or times at school will be naturally louder - carry earplugs for these.

      I’d recommend getting some custom moulded musicians earplugs if you don’t already have a pair (or two).
       
    8. Christiaan
      Inspired

      Christiaan Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      The Hague, the Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2016: headphones, 2020: worsened thanks to Rammstein
      Yes, there are tons of ways to do classroom management without falling in the old-school pattern of raising one's voice, for example.

      There is one book that is considered almost like the holy bible among teachers here in the NL (and perhaps in the US), and that is Teach Like A Champion (by Doug Lemov). The author of this book discusses tons of strategies to improve your skills in CR management, class routine, presentation, etc. Perhaps it's something that you could use for your own benefit to kickstart your career.
       
    9. sssing

      sssing Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      cold
      Me too, I’m teaching in elementary school. It gets so busy that frankly I can’t stop to think too much of my tinnitus. That said, I have been careful with my noise exposure as far as I can. Every time there’s a lesson transition and noise levels increase, I’ll whip out my ear plugs and walk off to some quiet spot quickly. I agree kids and teachers are extremely loud. Another fellow teacher also suffers from vestibular disorders as she always raises her voice at the kids. Personally I think teaching has many job hazards, high levels of noise being one of them. :(
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    10. sssing

      sssing Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      cold
      Hi Sarah, after reading your question carefully, my answer is I really can’t tell you whether it’s worth the risk or not. But it is a fulfilling job that I do like much more than my previous other jobs (engineer at a semicon).

      Yes, I do try to manage my classroom so that it’s quite quiet most of the time. It’s doable with good classroom management and I never shout at kids. When there’s noisy activities in the classroom, I sometimes use earplugs discreetly.

      Do think carefully if you can accept the inconvenience of constantly being alert and taking precautions against noise exposure because as like what @twa mentioned, education is loud.

      Do feel free to ask me any questions you might have! All the best :)
       
    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Sarah93

      Sarah93 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hello guys,

      Thanks again for all your replies! They have been very helpful.

      For now I have decided to continue with my plans. I’ll first have to study for 3 years (part-time alongside my current job) and by that time I will likely have a much better idea of whether I can manage it. Maybe there will even be better treatments or a cure by then, and if not, I can always look for a job in the educational departments of museums/libraries/publishing houses/... I already have a Master’s in translation and 4 years of experience as a project manager, so I actually have plenty of alternative job possibilities, but if I ever want try teaching, it feels like now is the time. :)
       
      • Like Like x 1
    12. Sointu
      Sad

      Sointu Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Music festival
      This thread was interesting for me personally.

      I got tinnitus and hyperacusis from a loud concert and it has lasted for five weeks. I haven't had hearing issues/tinnitus in the past. And I never thought loud noise would be a problem for me in my work, before this.

      Now I have been just thinking have I made the right career choice, especially if this tinnitus/hyperacusis is not stopping. I have been studying and my plan is to be a teacher some day. For the first time I have started to be worried of my hearing. And decibels in the place I would teach. And how those decibels would affect my tinnitus. I still hope this tinnitus/hyperacusis would just stop and would be temporary. :( My audiogram was normal so obviously there is not any bigger hearing loss but tinnitus/sensitivity to sound can be a big problem too. I know there is a chance tinnitus can come back in the future, especially if I were to work in loud environments, and expose myself to loud noises every day.

      I have the option to do other work too with my degree. I have this other plan too. Luckily. I could also take courses and study something else to help with that decision. Of course giving up a thing I have worked for a long time would hurt a lot. A lot.

      I have still not forgot my dream to work as a teacher. It would be really awful having to give up my dream for one unfortunate concert that triggered this tinnitus nightmare. Nightmare is a good word to describe how this has felt like.

      I am also studying constantly in loud environments. I started studying after a break and it's been challenging I must say. I feel really sensitive to sound at the moment and the tinnitus just seems to get worse when I am in loud environments. I have kept earplugs in my ears when the sound feels too much, to protect my ears. I am constantly thinking should I just mess up my studying schedule, postpone graduation and postpone all "louder courses" at the moment. If I do those courses, I am worried it will make healing from tinnitus more difficult. I don't know if I am causing harm to myself if I am in loud environments right now, and make my healing more difficult. I try to keep earplugs on in loudest situations but still this makes me think. And healing from tinnitus is my priority.
       
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