2:00 AM 15th January 2022
What Is Tinnitus And How Does It Affect Sufferers
Tinnitus affects a number of people’s lives daily, with many struggling to cope with the condition. During the initial stages of the pandemic, reports of tinnitus rose, especially in people with COVID-19.
In fact, a study published in March 2021 in the International Journal of Audiology estimated that as many as one in six individuals with COVID-19 had tinnitus, most often during the early stages of the virus.
Below, Katie Ogden, the HCPC registered hearing aid dispenser and Training Manager for ReSound North-West Europe offers some expert advice on tinnitus.
How to tell if you’re suffering from tinnitus?
Firstly there is actually no clear definition of what tinnitus is and for those of you that have done your own research on the subject you will find that there are quite a few subtypes of tinnitus, all needing different treatments.
Tinnitus itself is when a person can hear a noise that no one else can hear with no external source of the sound. This means that only you can hear the sound and there is nothing external to the human body making the noise.
There is no set rule about what that sound will be with the following being the most common:
How can it impact everyday life?
A low pitch humming sound
A high pitch whistle
Tinnitus can often be a chronic condition where it affects a person every day of their life, it can also be temporary and intermittent meaning it can be unpredictable to live with.
Tinnitus can be very distracting and prevent people from being able to concentrate which in turn is very frustrating, it is often associated with insomnia and can contribute to issues with mental health such as anxiety, stress and depression.
The vicious cycle
The difficulty is that tinnitus can become part of a vicious cycle, in its most basic form of this cycle, stress feeds off of tinnitus and tinnitus feeds off of stress so the key to successfully managing tinnitus is to find the method/s that breaks the cycle for the person that is struggling to cope with tinnitus.
What causes tinnitus?
There is no clear cause for tinnitus only theories of possibilities, this is why there is no cure. Remember this is a sound that no one else can hear, which means no one else can prove if it is even happening, nor can anyone prove it isn’t happening. This makes tinnitus an incredibly complex condition but also a very unique condition to the person who is trying to live with it.
There are however some thoughts around possible causes relating to hearing loss:
Trauma to the head, neck and ears
Stress and anxiety
Nerve damage and other neurological disorders
Treatments and medication
On the other hand, tinnitus can often occur or start for absolutely no reason at all.
How to manage and cope with tinnitus?
While there is no cure, there are many methods, tactics and strategies that can enable a sufferer to successfully manage their condition.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT)
Tinnitus Retraining Therapies (TRT)
One of the most common management strategies is the use of hearing aids when the sufferer also has hearing loss and hearing aids that contain tinnitus masking features. ReSound hearing aids include a feature called the Tinnitus Sound Generator and the hearing care professional will work with the patient to program this feature specific to the patients’ own individual needs.
ReSound also provide a free to all app called ReSound Relief, this promotes control and empowerment through sound therapy, meditation, relaxation exercises and guidance. You can get this on apple devices with iOS 10.0 or later and Android 5.0 or later, for further information on the app you can go to https://www.resound.com/en-gb/help/apps/relief
Where to get help?
In the UK, there are many regional tinnitus support groups where you can go and meet others to discuss further management techniques or even just talk about your experiences with others in a similar situation, which can be a huge help.
You can also contact your GP or a hearing care professional for further information. UK audiologists can be found and contacted through the ReSound website. Alternatively, you can go to the British Tinnitus Association website at https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/
for even more information about tinnitus and available support.
If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression and want to talk to someone there are many people waiting to listen to you right now call the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258 or go to https://www.samaritans.org/
to live chat.