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West Middlesex joins Tinnitus Awareness Week

05 February 2015

Tinnitus Awareness Week (2 – 8 February) is an annual campaign run by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) to help raise awareness of, and support those with, the condition and to let people know that help and support is available.

Tinnitus Awareness Week (2 – 8 February) is an annual campaign run by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) to help raise awareness of, and support those with, the condition and to let people know that help and support is available.

Tinnitus is a condition for which there is no known cause or cure. It affects 10% of UK adults and one in ten sufferers also report severe effects on their quality of life including depression, anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation.

It is not always possible to identify the cause of tinnitus but it is often associated with hearing loss which, in younger people can be caused by damage to the inner ear as a result of excessive noise. However, other causes include a build-up of ear wax which blocks the ear, a middle ear infection or glue ear.

Although there is a common misconception that Tinnitus is most common with the elderly, it can actually occur at any age, especially following exposure to loud noise. About ten per cent of the population experiences tinnitus all the time which can have an effect on their ability to concentrate at work and possibly cause sleeping problems.

Senior Audiologist at West Middlesex University Hospital, Karlien Van Staden advises: “We can all take simple steps to avoid long-term damage to our hearing. To prevent hearing loss and tinnitus you should protect your ears from excessive noise exposure; wear ear protectors if you work in a noisy environment and wear ear plugs when going to gigs and concerts. Also avoid listening to music on loud volumes with earphones.

“If you are continually hearing sounds such as buzzing, ringing or humming, or if you have regular episodes of hearing these sounds, you should speak to your GP. Tinnitus is rarely an indication of a serious disorder so try not to worry and maybe find out a bit more about the condition as this could help put your mind at ease.”

There is currently no single treatment that works for everyone. If an underlying cause of tinnitus can be found there may be ways of helping to improve it or manage the condition. The most important part of treatment is educational: having a detailed explanation of the mechanisms of hearing and learning that it is amplified by anxiety and over-attention to it. Studies have actually indicated that even without any treatment, the noises disappear or at least diminish in the majority of cases as the brain loses interest in and stops surveying the signal.

More information can be found at www.nhs.uk or www.tinnitus.org.uk. There is also a Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Support Group that meets bi-monthly at West Middlesex Hospital, usually on a Thursday, and it is run by members of the Audiology and Hearing Therapy team. The group offers support, discussion and information, and often welcomes a guest speaker to give a presentation or a demonstration of meditation or relaxation techniques. Those wishing to attend need to have been seen by an ENT consultant at the Trust.