IN every hour of the day and night, Jessica Gaye has a constant beeping in her ears.
The 19-year-old Devonport woman woke up suddenly one night to discover the noise.
Ms Gaye said it stopped after a couple of days, but started again a week later, and has not stopped since.
"In my right ear I have a beeping noise which sounds like Morse code, in my left ear I have a high-pitched whine, and inside my head it sounds something similar to heavy rain falling on the roof," Ms Gaye said.
"I can't stand being in silence ... I have to sleep with the TV or music, but that is pretty much all I can do."
Ms Gaye was told by doctors that she was experiencing tinnitus, which was a symptom of Meniere's disease.
"The symptoms of Meniere's differ for most sufferers. "Usually it causes a sick feeling, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches, even possible mood swings," Ms Gaye said.
"It affects my balance - I've fallen over from it before.
"I can deal with the headaches and everything else, it is just the noise ... ever since getting it I am always angry, and get frustrated easily.
"It is horrible even when I can't hear it (in a social situation), I can still feel it, like a vibrating or humming in my ear."
Hearing Link Tasmania screening audiometrist David Closs said the causes of Meniere's disease were not known.
There is no known cure, but "tremendous" amounts of research is being undertaken worldwide.
Mr Closs said there were thousands of tinnitus sufferers in Tasmania, with up to 30 per cent of the population affected.
He said tinnitus could have devastating consequences, including severe depression.
"Meniere's is really nasty for sufferers and is usually associated with hearing loss, chronic tinnitus and attacks of vertigo," Mr Closs said.
"Tinnitus can be a whole range of different sounds, such as sounds on a beach, people hearing their own heart thumping, or a high-pitched whine.
"It can range from annoying background noise to the point where it can be incredibly obtrusive."
Mr Closs said most tinnitus was caused by damage to the hearing system.
"Look after your hearing," Mr Closs said.
"We are looking at an epidemic of things like hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of kids putting iPods in their ears and turning up the volume full bore.
"Talk to any audiologist, and they would have seen people who, by the time they got to their mid-20s, were saying `I can't hear anymore'."
There are no known support groups for these conditions in the North and North-West, but Ms Gaye has started the North- West Meniere's Disease and Tinnitus Awareness Group on Facebook for support.
For more information, call Hearing Link on 1800982212.
Source: The Examiner, Australia