A UNIVERSITY of Bradford student has pledged to walk or run 100km over the course of this month to raise awareness of a condition he suffers from.

Final year politics student Zbigniew Pawel Soj, known as Paul to his friends, has tinnitus - a condition characterised by unexplained, persistent sounds in the ear.

According to the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), it affects an estimated six million Brits, including 54,000 adults in Bradford and around 245,000 across West Yorkshire.

Paul, who turns 23 next week, is also hoping to raise £200 for the BTA as he takes on his challenge.

Paul's tinnitus began just over a year ago, when he started hearing unexplained high pitched sounds in his left ear.

The noises soon spread to his other ear and at times became so loud that he could not concentrate.

Speaking during Tinnitus Awareness Week, which took place at the start of this month, he said: “When I developed tinnitus, it was a very stressful time. My tinnitus became so loud that I could not focus on anything else. It was at times so unbearable that it affected my whole life.”

Just over a year on and he has found several techniques - including massages and cognitive behavioural therapy - to help him cope with tinnitus, but he says it is still something he notices every day and that the condition is not given enough attention.

“Part of the problem is that when you talk to family, friends, GPs and health professionals about tinnitus, you feel ignored, because they do not know how to treat it and so they say that ‘you will have to learn to live with it’", Paul, who is originally from Poland, said.

“A lot of people don’t really know what it is and as a consequence, it’s not taken seriously. The reality is tinnitus can stop you sleeping, studying, working and even socialising. That’s partly why I took on this challenge, to try and raise awareness of what tinnitus is and to make people aware of how debilitating it can be.

“I was really struggling with my daily life which involved studying, working and socialising. The high-pitch sound in my head was often so loud that I could not focus on anything, unless I had a device playing some white noise next to me. I also suffered from insomnia for a couple of months, which made me feel down every day.

“I started losing any hope that my life would ever get better. It was truly the darkest time I have been ever through. Nevertheless, I found light at the end of this deep tunnel”.

Paul introduced new techniques to his life, including neuromodulation and physical activity, which have helped him deal with his tinnitus.

He is due to graduate in May and has plans to work for the civil service, and also recently wrote an article for BTA, which offers support, advice and news on the latest research into the condition.

His JustGiving page, which at the time of writing had reached 25 per cent of its target, can be found by searching the site for 'Zbigniew Soj'.