A third of people will experience tinnitus – commonly a ringing in their ear – at some point in their lives, and one in eight live with this persistent sound .
It is also estimated that one in six people who have had Covid also experienced tinnitus as a side effect . While it is not known what causes tinnitus, it has been linked to hearing loss and changes in the way the brain processes sounds .
Many celebrities, particularly those who work in music, have spoken out about their experience of tinnitus including Will.i.am, Chris Martin, Martin Kemp and Rag’n’Bone Man. Recently, Gareth Malone, also worked with Specsavers to speak about his tinnitus and highlight the importance of us looking after our hearing.
David Stockdale, Chief Executive of British Tinnitus Association, says: ‘Naturally, over time, you may experience hearing loss – just as you may find your eyesight changes. However, experiencing tinnitus and hearing loss due to not protecting your hearing is something you may regret. The British Tinnitus Association recommends people over the age of 50 should have their hearing tested regularly – as looking after your hearing is not only important, it’s essential because once damaged, your hearing can not be fixed.’
While tinnitus can be extremely frustrating, the good news is there are many tinnitus management techniques and therapies that people can use to alleviate symptoms.
This Tinnitus Week (February 7-13) Specsavers chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, explains more:
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of noises in the ear. While it isn’t a condition itself, it is often a symptom of something underlying such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or even a circulatory system disorder. It is very common and can occur at any age, not only in those who have hearing loss but also in those who don’t look after their hearing.
What are the symptoms?
The main sensation is often a ringing sound in the ear. However, other sounds that can be heard include buzzing, whistling, humming, hissing and grinding. It can be a constant sound or occasional and the volume may vary.
Can it be prevented?
People who work with loud noises should always make sure they are wearing hearing protection, especially those who work with loud music, loud machinery and those who are exposed to loud bangs or who go clubbing frequently.
You also need to exercise caution when you’re wearing your headphones. To stay safe you should never listen to your music above 60% volume and you should also give your ears a break every hour too.
What can help?
Tackling tinnitus by yourself can be daunting and can make you feel isolated and alone, but there is a variety of support available for tinnitus sufferers depending on symptoms. If you have tinnitus sounds pulsating or in just one ear, it is best to discuss this with your GP. If you have symptoms of both tinnitus and hearing loss, the use of hearing aids can be successful in managing and improving your symptoms and your audiologist will be able to help.
For people who have symptoms of tinnitus but don’t have hearing loss, there are many techniques to help manage or alleviate them. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as the use of background noise in quiet situations.
The British Tinnitus Association can also offer support through its freephone helpline, email, SMS/text and web chat services. Its tinnitus support team has many years of experience supporting people with tinnitus and all their support services are free.
To find out more about tinnitus and the support on offer visit www.tinnitus.org.uk or call the British Tinnitus Association helpline on 0800 018 0527. If you have concerns about your hearing you can book a hearing test by visiting www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing
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