IT began with How Much is that Doggie in the Window ringing in her ears continuously.

Now it can be that, Happy Birthday, God Save the Queen or even Auld Lang Syne.

Susan Root’s rare form of tinnitus means music and songs play on loop in her head.

The endless torment for Mrs Root, of Coggeshall, started in 2010 and three years later her bizarre story made national headlines.

But comical as it may seem to some, it will continue to plague Mrs Root, 67, for the foreseeable future as tinnitus has no cure.

Mrs Root previously worked as a cleaner at the Honywood Community Science School for nearly 30 years but has retired for health reasons.

She said: “It just came on at work all of a sudden - How Much is That Doggie in the Window. I never heard it before.

“It is horrible. People thought it was funny but it is not, they don’t understand.”

Mrs Root has a machine in her bedroom to drown the songs out but said they still plague her and she’s resorted to taking sleeping tablets.

“I have been to two therapists who were just talking to me but it didn’t help.

“It just intrigues me how the tunes got into my head,” she added.

During her battle, Mrs Root has seen Don McFerran, an Ear, Nose and Throat consultant surgeon mainly based at Essex County Hospital in Colchester.

So highly regarded is Mr McFerran, that he sees around 500 patients a year and they come from all over the world.

But for those unlike Mrs Root who have never experienced tinnitus, there is a degree of ignorance as to how debilitating it can be.

“Not a lot of people are interested,” he said.

“But one in ten of the population have tinnitus.

“I think it is all too often seen as nothing can be done about it and the drug companies look upon it as an irritation but not a major life or death condition so they are reluctant to spend large quantities of money on it.”

He added: “It can have more of an impact on some people.

“There is also a bit of an overlap with anxiety and depression and sometimes it is difficult to know which happened first.”

Mr McFerran has co-written well respected guidance of tinnitus for GPs, holds information days around the country and is a trustee of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) charity.

He’s been based in Colchester since 1999 but it was during training in the 1980s that he realised his fascination with tinnitus.

“It just seemed there was area that had a lot of need and an unmet need,” he said.

By the time most patients come to see Mr McFerran they have already been experiencing tinnitus for several months and the severity can be wide ranging.

“Sometimes it is curiosity, other people are crawling the walls,” he explained.

Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant and can affect one or both ears.

Anyone can experience tinnitus with Mr McFerran seeing patients as young as under ten but the most common group is those aged 60 to 70.

The noise they describe ranges from hissing and buzzing, to the more extreme case of Mrs Root’s.

The way tinnitus works is complex but put simply, the ear turns sound into an electrical signal that reaches the brain.

It decides what you need to hear. Some information goes to the conscious ‘thinking brain’ while some goes to the ‘emotional brain’ which reacts to sounds which may distress us.

It is the latter that impacts some people, resulting in tinnitus.

But why this happens could be down to various reasons.

If your hearing has been reduced the brain may try to compensate and listen harder so picks up on distressing sounds.

A stressful life event could also be a prompt.

There is no direct role for drugs although they can be used to treat associated symptoms such as vertigo, insomnia, anxiety or depression.

There is also no conventional or complementary medication that has been shown to have directly helped.

While sadly there is no cure that’s not to say work isn’t going on to try to find one or help sufferers in the meantime.

Mr McFerran said: “The majority of patients improve rather than worsen.”

He added: “One of the things the BTA does is it funds research. There is research looking for cures and there are some drug studies going on.”

One such drug is used by dentists to provide local anaesthetic but although found to work for a few minutes intravenously for tinnitus sufferers, there is a risk of it stopping the heart.

Mr McFerran said: “If that drug can do it there must be a lock that will fit a key.”

Other treatments currently available include therapy to work on sleep techniques, hearing aids to prevent straining to listen or even devices put in a bedroom at night to distract patients from the tinnitus sounds, like the one being used by Mrs Root.

Other psychological treatments include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or meditation.

While Mrs Root’s tinnitus is an extreme example, Mr McFerran’s motto is “Tinnitus should not restrict life.”

More information is or by calling the BTA helpline on 0800 018 0527.