For decades, hundreds of people worldwide have been plagued by an elusive buzzing noise known as “the Hum”. Some have blamed gas pipes or power lines, others think their ears are faulty. A few even think sinister forces could be at work.
“It’s a kind of torture, sometimes you just want to scream,” exclaims retired head teacher Katie Jacques.
Sitting in the living room of her home in the suburbs of Leeds, the 69-year-old grandmother describes the dull drone she says is making her life a misery.
Most visitors hear nothing, but to Katie the noise is painful, vivid and constant.
“It has a rhythm to it – it goes up and down. It sounds almost like a diesel car idling in the distance and you want to go and ask somebody to switch the engine off – and you can’t.”
Katie says she no longer has any quiet moments and getting a good night’s sleep has become impossible.
“It’s worst at night. It’s hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background and you know what it’s like when you can’t get to sleep and you’re tossing and turning and you get more and more agitated about it.”
Katie first became aware of the maddening rumble two years ago. She turned everything electrical off at the mains, but that made no difference. Neither did her efforts to block out the sound with ear plugs, or smother it with music.
I am slowly going deaf. I constantly hear a very high pitched, very loud sound. I’m pretty sure this is due to ear damage. As a musician, I find this entirely horrible. I will consider surgery if anything can be done for me. I visited an audiologist and I did have some hearing loss and a negative pressure in my right ear. Now the sound is spreading to my left ear. I blame the doctors for not seeing me soon enough when I had a ear ache. I ended up having a burst ear drum and bleeding from the ear a few years ago that is now going deaf. So, I’m trying to make music as much as I can while I can still hear. It may also be due to years of working next to loud fans. I’ve had many loud jobs over the years. Be warned! Years of hard work in a loud environment can rob you of your hearing. I hear the hiss right now. It is so loud. It makes me very sad and very angry at times. As if I don’t have enough pressure already with losing my home and dealing with work. I need to sleep for a month.