talkhealth meets... Dr Edmund Farrar

Like lots of our medical experts, Dr Ed Farrar has harnessed his own health journey to help others. Here the co-founder of Oto, a digital health solution dedicated to providing evidence-based advice for people with tinnitus, shares his own journey with the condition…

*Watch Dr Farrar's Treating Tinnitus webinar*

What is your experience with tinnitus and how did this empower you to set up Oto?

I graduated from medical school in 2015 and spent six years as an RAF doctor. During my time in the military, I developed tinnitus. For me, it was fairly mild and didn’t impact my quality of life, but I spoke to other men and women in the military living with the condition and realised that it was having a huge impact on people’s lives. It also became clear to me that access to help for the condition is also very limited, so I set up Oto.

When did you first realise that you had the condition?

In the beginning, there was a three or four-month period when it was affecting my sleep. Also, if I was in a quiet room, the ringing was unpleasant. Luckily for me, the ringing is not too loud and I habituated quite quickly. Still, that experience gave me an insight into what people experience when they have it worse. 

What did you do to help the ringing?

I put background sounds on when I was going to sleep and did all of the things that I had learned in medical school. I realised that I would get used to the sounds quite quickly. 

Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ that made you set up Oto?

It was when I first sat down with George, the co-founder of the platform, who has tinnitus worse than me. One of his patients was a helicopter pilot in the Navy and the condition had ruined this man’s life. George had tried to refer this person for help and it was limited. After that, we realised we had the opportunity to put our heads together and do something to help people. 

Why did you set Oto up online?

We made Oto digital because it is scalable. Audiologists and psychologists can give tinnitus therapy but there aren’t enough that are fully trained. That’s the problem. One in eight people live with tinnitus but not many people can deliver care. So, for us, the quickest solution for that was to create something that was digitally available and instantly accessible to everyone. 

What are the misconceptions surrounding tinnitus?

One fact that people often forget is that there is no cure for the condition. Unfortunately, as a symptom of how desperate people are to solve their tinnitus, you’ll find all sorts of manipulative advice online. From sticking garlic in your ears to herbal medicines that have been touted to help tinnitus. No tablet is available for public use that cures tinnitus or reduces its loudness.

What three tips would you give to someone living with tinnitus?

Don’t lose hope - Lots of people get told there is nothing that can be done but there is loads of help available. Whether it be from the British Tinnitus Association or apps like Oto, helpful advice and effective treatments do exist. 

Stick with it - If you have found treatments that work for you be persistent and practise them every day because that’s how you regain control.

Don’t believe everything you read online - There is so much rubbish out there. Find sources, like Oto, that are founded on medical knowledge and research. 

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Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 30 November 2021
Next review: 30 November 2024