Audiology experts are urging people across South Devon to be aware of the debilitating effects of tinnitus.
With Tinnitus Awareness Week running from 5–11 February, latest figures show that the condition affects 7.6 million people in the UK.
Those with tinnitus can experience noises in the ear despite there being no external sounds to cause this.
Specsavers audiologists say that while symptoms are individual to each person, the most common sensation that sufferers report is a ringing sound that, in severe cases, can be unrelenting. Other frequently reported sounds include buzzing, whistling, humming, hissing and even grinding.
Tinnitus can occur in one ear or both ears at once, with its onset either being sudden or gradual, depending on the cause and type.
Despite numerous studies, the direct cause of tinnitus remains unclear. There are, however, some factors that are known to contribute to its onset, including age-related hearing loss, earwax build-up, ear infections, perforated eardrum andexposure to loud noise.
More recently, evidence has highlighted a link between long covid and tinnitus, with a study finding that 15% of long covid patients reported tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus can cause sleep problems, problems concentrating and low mood. What’s more, a recent study of over 8,000 participants found that people with tinnitus are more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety.
Gordon Harrison, Specsavers chief audiologist, adds: ‘There is no single cure for tinnitus, but there are methods that can help. The first step is to understand if tinnitus is being exacerbated by medical condition, like an ear infection, then treating that condition may resolve the symptoms of tinnitus.’
‘There are many suggestions on how to treat tinnitus, with many alternative remedies being proposed, such as vitamins and supplements like B12 and zinc.
‘However, the most common approach from professionals would include the treatment of symptoms through sound and behavioral therapies such as tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
‘A healthy diet and exercise, along with relaxation techniques are also common components of treatment plans.’
Tinnitus can affect anyone, but it is more common in people with hearing loss, so if you think you have tinnitus and hearing loss or have noticed changes in your hearing, book a free hearing test with a Specsavers audiologist at www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing.
Specsavers chief audiologist Gordon Harrison shares his top tips for coping with tinnitus:
1. Relaxation exercises are a useful way to minimise the stress and worry that can result from tinnitus. Techniques include yoga, deep breathing and guided meditation.
2. Improve sleep by sticking to a bedtime routine, keeping active during the day and reducing caffeine intake. If you think you are suffering with insomnia, speak to your GP for treatment options.
3. Mobile apps such as ReSound can give you access to sound therapy, advice on tinnitus and help you create a personalised tinnitus relief plan.
4. Support groups can be very helpful to talk to someone who understands how you are feeling. Find a support group near you if there is one. Tinnitus UK also has a helpline offering support to anyone experiencing tinnitus.
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