‘This is an emergency’ Kirsty Gallacher’s ‘difficult’ condition caused by tumour

Loose Women: Kirsty Gallacher details tinnitus struggle

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After the condition developed suddenly one summer morning, Gallacher dealt with irritating symptoms for two weeks, unaware of how serious it was. She then sought professional medical help where she was advised to see a consultant and have an MRI scan. Following the results from the scan, Gallacher was told she had a “very small tumour right in the inner ear canal”. Having suffered with the condition over numerous months Gallacher announced back in November that she will “step back” from her presenting role with GB News due to ill health.

Within the Instagram post which detailed her leave, Gallacher wrote: “I discovered I have a tumour in the inner canal of my right ear. Thankfully it’s benign and not hugely detrimental to my normal life.

“However the tumour has caused severe tinnitus which makes it very difficult to sleep. Sadly my 3am starts at GB news, compounded by sleep deprivation, are exacerbating my symptoms.”

She concluded: “I’ve taken the difficult decision to step back from my role on the Great British Breakfast while I focus on my health.”

In addition to stepping away from work, Gallacher shared that she is carrying on with “less disruptive work commitments” and focussing on a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly so that she can get back to her “normal routine” as quickly as possible.

In fact, being in such a good way health wise when she was given her diagnosis was one of the reasons why doctors thought her condition was such an “emergency”.

Recalling the conversation she had with her GP, Gallacher shared: “I went to the doctor and she checked me and said ‘You’re very healthy, Kirsty, this is an emergency.’

“And I went ‘Oh my gosh, why? Could it be a tumour?’ And she said ‘Listen, it probably isn’t but you’re going to go and see a consultant tomorrow.'”

The British Tinnitus Association explains that tinnitus derives from the Latin word for ringing and those living with the condition may have to endure a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or other noise. This sensation can be constant or intermittent and can also vary in volume.

It is important to note that the condition is not regarded as a disease or illness, rather than a symptom that is generated within the auditory system. In Gallacher’s case, for example, tinnitus has been caused as a result of her tumour.

The noise may also be in one or both ears, or it may feel like it is in the head. It is difficult to pinpoint its exact location as it can be heard as a single noise or as multiple components.

Due to this, many people complain of having trouble sleeping, with the condition having a significant impact on everyday life. This can include affecting concentration, and causing problems such as difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and depression.

Speaking about how the condition affects her slumber, Gallacher shared: “I was doing early morning on a breakfast show and I was getting up at 2.45 in the morning.

“And, so you know, that’s not pleasant anyway. But my sleep has been affected because if you wake up in the night anyway, it’s quite difficult to get back to sleep.

“If you focus on the noise and it’s silent, I often can’t get back to sleep for two more hours. So actually, I can’t function like that, as a single working mum, doing a breakfast show.

“I had to just politely say that I was dealing with something and I really couldn’t work at that time of day. I think that was fair enough, you’ve got to think about your health.”

Sharing her experience so publicly, Gallacher is far from alone with an estimated 7.1 million Brits also suffering from some type of tinnitus.

Currently there is no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone, with more research needed to find an effective treatment. However, as the British Tinnitus Association explains, if an underlying cause can be found, effectively treating it may help improve tinnitus – for example, removing a build-up of earwax.

If a specific cause can’t be found, treatment will focus on helping an individual manage the condition on a daily basis.

This may involve:

  • Sound therapy – listening to neutral sounds to distract you from the sound of tinnitus
  • counselling – therapy that aims to educate you about tinnitus and help you learn to cope with it more effectively
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – therapy that aims to help change the way you think about your tinnitus so it becomes less noticeable
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) – therapy that aims to help retrain the way your brain responds to tinnitus so you start to tune the sound out and become less aware of it.

In many cases, tinnitus will get better gradually over time, either by disappearing or by the body getting used to it (habituation). It is still important to seek medical advice to see if an underlying cause can be found and treated, and to help you find ways to cope with the problem.

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