The 35-year-old former Made in Chelsea star spoke out about living with the hearing condition on Wednesday’s edition of Good Morning Britain (7 February).
Tinnitus is when a person hears a ringing or buzzing noise coming from inside their ears, rather than from an outside source, and is often incurable. The condition affects 7.6 million people in the UK – with 1.5 million of them having severe tinnitus.
Speaking to hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley, the TV personality and podcast host shared that he’d been dealing with the condition for eight years, and that accepting it as a lifelong issue was difficult.
“One in seven people in the world have tinnitus, or some form of tinnitus, so they’re hearing some sort of ringing,” he explained.
“Mine started eight years ago and you have to learn to accept it, which is a really hard thing to do. When you first get tinnitus they say that ‘this is forever, there is no cure and you’re going to have to live with it.’”
Talking about how he discovered he had the condition, Laing said: “I woke up one morning and thought ‘what’s that ringing noise?’ and I was looking around the flat for the ringing noise before suddenly realising it was coming from inside my head and I was like ‘oh my god’.”
To manage it, Laing treats the ringing as “air-con in your bedroom, or a fan” – something that he has to tune out as he goes about his day.
“You have to try and sort of forget about it,” he continued. “But it is incredibly debilitating and it causes anxiety. Anxiety then makes it worse so it’s a vicious cycle which makes it very hard to sleep and people have to deal with it around the world and no one talks about it.”
Laing also explained that part of the initial anxiety about having tinnitus came from acknowledging that it’s something that would stay with him forever.
“When it first started and you realise it’s never going to go I was so anxious,” he said. “I thought I was never going to sleep again. I thought I was never going to hear again. It was so loud, I couldn’t hear people talking to me, it was that bad.”
Reid, who also has tinnitus, noted that the discussion had triggered the ringing noise in her ears, before Laing noted that he’d found ways to accept it.
He said: “I now use it as a sign, as an alarm. I say it’s my annoying best friend. So when it is high and I can hear it all the time I think well I must be tired, I must be stressed, I must be anxious, I must be worried about something and so I use that as a signal to have some rest and think I need to relax.”
Last year, Laing made headlines after not inviting his best friend and former cast mate Spencer Matthews to his wedding to Sophie Habboo.