A Fair Hearing in February

Apologies. The title of this post is a terrible joke based on two of my articles published this month. At least I presume they’ve both been published, because I can’t find one of them in any digital versions of magazines that usually publish me, but where they go is up to my Ed, so who knows :).

My health column this month was on tinnitus, because tinnitus awareness week was this month (2nd to 8th February). It’s a common misconception that tinnitus is ‘just’ an occasional ringing in your ears. Not so – it’s a lot more complicated and varied than that, and I wrote about it for three reasons. Firstly, Techie Husband suffered from it quite badly (not so much any more – I’ll explain why in a bit), as does Arty Daughter on and off; secondly, it’s a poorly understood problem that needs a higher public profile; and thirdly, I’d also recently gained a greater knowledge of tinnitus by pitching for (but narrowly missing out on) a contract to write three leaflets for the British Tinnitus Association aimed at children from different age groups.

Tinnitus pdf snip

Even though it’s still not fully understood, tinnitus appears to occur when our brain, used to filtering out superfluous signals (e.g. noise from humming refrigerators), finds itself not getting enough noise. It demands more information from our ears, and this is what triggers tinnitus. This phenomenon in itself can have other root causes, such as certain medications or illnesses. Of course, if your ears already don;t work as well as they should, your brain is aware that it’s not getting enough signals – and this is why people like Techie Husband, who have poor hearing, are more prone to tinnitus (particularly if, like him, they are missing specific frequencies or narrow frequency bands). Techie Husband has now had hearing aids for several months and it’s really made a difference. That’s great news because his tinnitus had been getting steadily worse, growing from a minor and occasional irritation into a major nuisance that made it difficult to relax.

So there’s the hearing reference. As for the ‘fair’… Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up soon. From 23rd Feb to 8th March there will be a host of events and promotions to spread the Fairtrade message, and to draw attention to this year’s specific theme – as I explain in this paragraph (from the short version of my article’.

This year, Fairtrade Fortnight’s nationwide ‘I See’ Campaign aims to ‘reinforce personal and emotional connections with Fairtrade’, making us more aware of how our shopping choices can have positive and profound effects on the lives of others, and helping us understand how Fairtrade benefits producers.
Claire Salundi, Project Manager for Fairtrade Fortnight, hopes the celebrity-fronted campaign will help consumers “understand more about what lies behind their everyday shopping and to make the connection between brewing a cuppa and someone’s son learning to read as a result.”


So I’ll leave you with this thought from my article:

The Power to Change the World Every Day’
By swapping your tea, chocolate or even your skirt for a Fairtrade alternative, you support farmers and producers in developing countries and Fairtrade’s campaign for a fairer, more sustainable food system.

“When you buy Fairtrade tea, I notice,” says Mario Mantagna, a Sri Lankan tea farmer. “Thanks to the premium price I get, we’ve been able to build a school in my village.” Proof enough that we really do – as Fairtrade says – have ‘the power to change the world every day’.

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