Home Health & Wellness 1 in 10 Brits Suffer with Tinnitus – Here’s How to Spot It

1 in 10 Brits Suffer with Tinnitus – Here’s How to Spot It

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Tinnitus Awareness Week 2024 takes place from the 5th to the 11th of February. Organised by registered charity Tinnitus UK, the aim of the week is to raise awareness and provide information to the public in order to support those who suffer from tinnitus.

With that being said, Ashish Shah, an audiologist at The Hearing Care Partnership, has answered the most common questions about tinnitus as well as shared ways to control it. 

So, what is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used to describe the sensation of hearing sound without any external source. Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears, and you can experience anything from a sound that is quite subtle to it completely taking over a person’s waking hours.”

What causes tinnitus?

Even though the exact cause of tinnitus has not yet been discovered, external triggers like pre-existing ear infections, ear wax buildup, stress, and prolonged exposure to loud noise are all potential things that can lead you to develop tinnitus. Identifying the specific trigger will help you manage the condition much more effectively. To do this, analyse any physical or mental changes to the body that seem different from the norm to try and pinpoint the cause.

Medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or antidepressants can have tinnitus as a side effect, so if you experience symptoms of tinnitus when taking these types of medications, you should speak with the medical professional who prescribed the medication as soon as possible.

Will tinnitus result in hearing loss?

Tinnitus and hearing loss are separate conditions, but while they are often connected, they are not catalysts for one another, as tinnitus can occur in both people with normal hearing as well as those with hearing loss. As tinnitus presents itself differently in everyone, treatments like hearing aids and sound enrichments are chosen and customised depending on an individual’s needs.

Is tinnitus always a ringing sound?

Even though tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing sound, tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. As the perception of a sound is subjective to the individual, it can manifest as a multitude of different sounds, such as rushing, thumping, buzzing, or humming.

Will hearing aids help with tinnitus?

One ideology of the cause of tinnitus is that if a person can’t hear a particular sound well, the brain creates a sound for them to hear – that being tinnitus.

Therefore, by wearing hearing aids and being able to hear your surroundings better, people become less aware of their tinnitus. While this is not a cure, it’s one of the few things audiologists recommend to help reduce the effects. Some hearing aids even offer a sound enrichment therapy feature, which produces a quiet repetition of sounds that masks the tinnitus and allows you to hear more clearly.

Is there a cure for tinnitus, and what other ways can help reduce the effects?

There is currently no definitive cure for tinnitus; however, it can be managed by treating the underlying causes, like excessive wax buildup or an existing ear infection. The success of treatment is dependent on the individual, considering factors like how long they’ve had tinnitus as well as other contributing health factors like stress.”

Aside from hearing aids, there are other ways to effectively manage your tinnitus, one of which is relaxation and meditation techniques. Allowing yourself to relax and not stress about tinnitus helps reduce awareness and the volume of tinnitus symptoms. This is especially useful for those who have identified that one of the reasons their tinnitus is worsening is because of their mental state.

Another way to reduce the effects of tinnitus is to minimise the time that you are exposed to loud noise. In places where you have control over your sound exposure, like your car or home, make sure the volume is at a safe level of 70 dB or less, as this will help prevent your tinnitus from worsening.”

For those environments where sound exposure is out of your control, like a noisy working environment, it’s important to ensure you wear good-quality ear protection, like ear plugs or defenders, which serve as a great solution to protect your ears against loud noises.

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