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Tinnitus: everything you need to know

PUBLISHED: 17:05 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 01 August 2018

Tinnitus can have detrimental effects on a person's quality of life (photo: Shutterstock)

Tinnitus can have detrimental effects on a person's quality of life (photo: Shutterstock)

Archant

Tinnitus affects around 10% of the UK population and often goes untreated. Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care told us everything you need to know about tinnitus

Tinnitus is thought to affect around 10% of the UK population; it can begin at any age and is often left untreated for prolonged periods of time. This could be down to the common belief that nothing can be done to help alleviate tinnitus or its associated symptoms, but there are in fact many things you can do to help prevent and minimise the impact of tinnitus, although it usually cannot be “cured”.

What is tinnitus?

Anyone who has experienced tinnitus (a word derived from the Latin for ‘ringing’) will know the tell-tale ringing, buzzing, roaring or clicking noises that can be heard, all with no external source. For some people, tinnitus symptoms can come and go, but those with more persistent tinnitus may also experience other symptoms such as sleep disturbances or stress-induced anxiety. Despite being commonly thought of as an individual condition, tinnitus is actually not a disease nor an illness; it is a symptom generated when a problem occurs in the auditory system.

What are the causes of tinnitus?

The causes of tinnitus aren’t yet fully understood but the symptoms can be triggered by many things including hearing loss, poor ear hygiene, loud noises, mental health issues, your brain being unable to control your reaction to specific sounds, other medical conditions and certain medications.

Prevention is the best form of treatment for tinnitus. There is no one single known cure for tinnitus, but there are certain things that can make it more likely for someone to develop the condition. Frequent exposure to loud noise is one of the more common causes, but this can be easily avoided by simply wearing protective ear plugs, helping to dramatically reduce the damage to your hearing, thus lowering the risk of developing tinnitus.

Good ear hygiene is another key aspect that should be focused on when trying to prevent tinnitus. If you develop ear infections through poor ear hygiene, your ears become susceptible to tinnitus. If you wear hearing aids, cleaning them regularly is advised or regularly having ear wax removal treatment with a professional audiologist is a good way of maintaining good ear hygiene.

Can tinnitus be treated?

Poor mental health can also bring on tinnitus symptoms through high levels of stress or anxiety. Sound enrichment therapy is one method used to ease the symptoms of tinnitus, involving quiet repetition of sounds such as waves, wind and rain – gently masking the effects of tinnitus.

Hearing aids have been proven to help reduce the symptoms, as the majority of people with tinnitus will also be suffering from some degree of hearing loss. The aim of hearing aids is to reduce the impact of hearing loss, which in turn can help to relieve tinnitus. The latest hearing technology helps to reduce your awareness of tinnitus by subtly amplifying environmental sounds, allowing the brain to focus more on the sounds that you want to hear, rather than the ringing or buzzing noise of your tinnitus.

What’s the next step?

The best way to prevent tinnitus or to detect it early on is to attend regular hearing tests because then any small changes in your hearing can be detected and monitored over time.

With Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care, you can attend a free full hearing assessment or tinnitus consultation with their expert audiologists. They can help advise and guide you to starting your journey to better hearing and allowing you to live your life to the full.

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