Gemma Cairns: The Scottish Woman Who Has Not Experienced Silence

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Gemma Cairns: The Scottish Woman Who Has Not Experienced Silence


32-year-old Gemma Cairns from Scotland has never head of silence, and that’s what she goes through every single day, writes Marco Margaritoff of All That’s Interesting, a platform dedicated to publishing interesting articles. Cairns tells Jessica Cripps of Scottish newspaper Daily Record, “I’ve always had noises. I’ve always heard my eyes moving and my heartbeat in my head,” cites Margaritoff. She did not realize “this was abnormal until she told her mother about it as a teenager.” Hence, Cairns desperately searched for answers for the next 14 years.

She was prescribed medications for nasal issues and blocked ears for years, giving up in the process. Cairns moved to Glasgow in 2016, where she found the answer she was looking for. A specialist diagnosed the woman with bilateral superior semicircular canal dehiscence. Cairns is missing a part of the temporal lobe in both ear canals, which affects both hearing and balance. Last September, she underwent surgery and “is awaiting surgery on the other this October.” If the surgery is successful, then it will be her first time to experience silence.


32-year-old Gemma Cairns from Scotland / Photo by: Kennedy News and Media via All That's Interesting


Cairns’ condition is hard to describe to people within her social circle, as it’s rare and may sound fabricated. She recounts, “I’ve always heard my blood rushing, like a swooshing sound.” However, it’s the constant eye movements that bother the 32-year-old the most. People ask what it sounds like and Cairns tries to describe it, but she can’t think of anything that sounds similar to it.

According to the woman, “it’s not squeaky, but it’s similar.” She admits getting tinnitus along with the “squeaky” sound. On the bright side, Cairns’ condition did not obstruct her from living her life. She gets through the day like any other individual as a working mother amid dizziness and constant noise, albeit the noise significantly affects her quality time with her family like playing with her son. “If there are more than a couple of noises going on at once it can overstimulate me. My ears just can’t take it,” she says.


Silence / Photo by: Galina Peshkova via 123RF


Unfortunately, Cairns’ condition robbed her of regular exercise. She likes running but when her heart starts pumping, the sensation is akin to tinnitus. If Cairns moves her head or eyes too quickly, she can knock herself off balance. Luckily, it hasn’t affected her sleep.

Cairns hopes her story will prompt others “to keep their heads up.” The condition may be rare, but she speculates it to be “more undiagnosed than anything else.” Cains adds, “I think people have it but they don’t know they can get help.”


Cairins' ear surgery / Photo by: Kennedy News and Media via Daily Record




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