It is estimated that around six million people – that’s about one in ten of the population – are affected by the ear condition, tinnitus. And, for as many as 600,000 of those sufferers, the symptoms can be so severe that it can seriously impact on quality of life.
What’s more, as many as a third of the population are likely to suffer from tinnitus at some time in their lives.
So if you are silently soldiering on with tinnitus – there may be some comfort in knowing you are far from alone.
What is Tinnitus?
The name comes from the Latin word tinnire to ring – which is very apt. Basically, it’s a hearing disorder where a person is plagued with a mixture of ringing, buzzing, whistling and humming noises in the ear. The sounds actually emanate from within the body.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom which can be associated with a number of underlying causes. It is certainly linked with age-related hearing loss, but tinnitus has also been attributed to inner ear damage, resulting from repeated exposure to loud noises. A build up of ear wax or even middle ear infection can also trigger it, as well as Ménière’s disease, a condition that causes hearing loss and vertigo (loss of balance). Otosclerosis, an inherited condition involving abnormal middle ear bone growth, is another culprit.
Whilst there is no known cure for tinnitus – and no medication to treat it – the good news is that the condition is manageable. Prevention is certainly the best option and this can be achieved by:
- Protecting your ears from noise damage by using earplugs or muffs
- Avoiding the use of cotton buds. Ears clean themselves naturally and buds can actually push wax further into the ear or, worse still, damage the ear drum
- Treating ear infections quickly
- Exercising regularly and controlling blood pressure
In the absence of a full-blown cure, management is the most effective treatment. And there’s plenty of help at hand, on which we can advise you. The best known of these involves counselling aligned with a range of talk and sound therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT can be delivered either via the internet or in a one-to-one session.
There is also tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT). This is a process of learning to handle tinnitus on a conscious and subconscious level and has been known to benefit a lot of people.
So you don’t have to deal with this on your own.
At SEHCC, we can advise on the best course of treatment, depending on the level and severity of the tinnitus you are experiencing.
Initially, if you are worried about your hearing, you can book a hearing check at your local branch.