Tinnitus Awareness Week takes place between 5 and 11 February 2024.
This campaign aims to educate and raise awareness of tinnitus, provide support to those affected and promote research into effective treatment.
One in seven adults in the UK live with tinnitus and for those who experience moderate to severe symptoms, day to day life can be distressing and it can have a significant impact on their quality of life.
In December 2023, Tinnitus UK conducted a survey involving 478 people living with tinnitus and found that:
- More than eight out of ten reported low mood or anxiety with 68.4% reporting low self-esteem and 54.9% struggling to think rationally.
- Seven out of ten reported feeling hopeless or helpless.
- 7% reported sleep disturbance.
- One in five respondents had experienced thoughts of suicide or self-harm in the last year.
In March 2020, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) introduced guidelines for tinnitus assessment, investigation and management. However, the survey carried out by Tinnitus UK identified that only half of the respondents were able to secure a GP appointment, whilst 16% had to wait for over a month. Only 5% were offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and limited mental health support was available.
Tinnitus UK is calling for immediate action on referrals to secondary healthcare for people suffering with tinnitus, increased education for medical professionals and to implement a standardised model for the management of tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the hearing of a sound when there is no external noise present. It usually takes the form of a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, whooshing, or a humming noise that can be constant or intermittent.
Tinnitus in the news
In recent news, TV personality, entrepreneur and podcaster Jamie Laing has shared his story of his tinnitus journey with RNID and Good Morning Britain. He describes his symptoms as ‘incredibly debilitating’ and draws on the impact that this has had on his life:
“I haven’t heard silence for eight years…there is no more silence and so you think you are never going to sleep again, you think you are never going to be able hear anything ever again apart from this ringing, and that is a pretty scary place to be.”
Jaime has attributed his tinnitus symptoms to attending nightclubs and not protecting his ears. Noise damage can be a contributing factor to tinnitus, which may present occasionally or constantly throughout a person’s life.
Here at Hugh James, we have been looking into the life-changing condition that many of our military clients suffer from.
What are the causes of Tinnitus?
Although the exact cause of the condition is not known, possible causes include, but are not limited to, head injuries, ear infections and adverse reactions to medication.
Similarly, there is a strong causal link between exposure to loud noise and tinnitus.
Military Related Tinnitus
Military personnel are often exposed to noise levels that are likely to be much louder than sounds heard in day-to-day life. At Hugh James we see many veterans and serving personnel from all three services who say they are struggling with hearing loss and tinnitus due to exposure to excessive noise, often without any or any adequate hearing protection.
If you are struggling with the effects of tinnitus, then it is important that you discuss this with your GP. They may be able to refer you for therapy although NHS waiting lists may be lengthy. If you think you may have been exposed to excessive levels of noise whilst serving in the military, it may also be worth a call to Hugh James.