Tinnitus is a perception of sounds that are generated by the nervous system of the ear and brain. It is often perceived and described as ringing, humming, whistling or buzzing noises which can be constant or periodic and vary in loudness. It is a common symptom suffered to some extent by 15-20% of the general population. Tinnitus is a common problem experienced in particular by those with hearing loss. 70-85% of people with hearing lossexperienced tinnitus. Only 10 - 25% of tinnitus sufferers seek medical attention.
Tinnitus Awareness Week will take place this month from Monday 6th until Sunday 12th February 2012. The 2012 campaign will aim to encourage better tinnitus awareness among primary care practitioners.
Whilst it is generally accepted that tinnitus involves some kind of neural activity which the brain interprets as sound, the etiology of tinnitus remains uncertain. Regardless of the cause, there is a high correlation between hearing loss and tinnitus. Factors that are known to exacerbate tinnitus include; caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, sodium, high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, hyper and hypothryroidism, noise exposure and stress.
For many individuals, tinnitus is more of an irritant than a problem. However, for some, tinnitus can impact significantly on overall well being. Problems associated with tinnitus include; depression, problems with sleep, poor concentration and even social withdrawal.
Negative emotion is often attached to the tinnitus. Feelings of fear and anxiety associated with tinnitus can impact significantly on a person’s life quality. Once medical evaluation has ruled out a treatable or serious disorder, education and reassurance can be extremely valuable and impact positively for many sufferers. Research has shown that counselling (informational and adjustment) in combination with sound stimulation to help reduce the stress associated with tinnitus can be very useful in managing the negative impact of distressing tinnitus.
“It is important for people who experience troublesome tinnitus to be aware of the support available,” says Orla Kealy, Audiologist at Cubex. "There are a range of management options that can be tailored to meet each patient’s personal needs."
“Determining how the tinnitus affects a patient's daily life is the first step in any management programme,” adds Orla. “It helps us establish the degree and nature of intervention. Counselling therapy aims to equip patients with the tools and knowledge to manage negative reactions to tinnitus. This may include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, education and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Most methods of tinnitus management also incorporate relaxation therapy and the use of sound in some manner to reduce the negative effects of tinnitus.”