Tinnitus Awareness Week 2017
Tinnitus is often described as a ‘ringing in the ears’. That throwaway line doesn’t reflect how serious tinnitus can be for many of the six million people in the UK who experience it.
Tinnitus can be defined as ringing in the ears when there’s no external actual ringing going on.
In fact, people often say it’s more like a buzzing or hum that can drive you to distraction. These can be continuous or they can come and go. There can be one sound or several, and the sounds often change. It can be intrusive and frustrating, and for many, it plays havoc with your quality of life, mental health, and relationships.
Deaf Direct’s Chief Executive, Philip Gerrard is profoundly Deaf. Here he shares his memories of his battle with tinnitus:
“At the time of losing my hearing, my youngest child was 2. You can imagine a typical noise from a two year old is quite noisy and sometimes sounds like yelling, shouting or screaming (!). He is now older and I am sure he is much quieter now. But whenever I was in the house or driving, surrounded by my youngest and other three children, my brain imagined that yelling, shouting and screaming. This is what you would call tinnitus. I was hearing this noise all the time whenever children were around because that is what my brain could remember from when I could hear using a hearing aid. Inside my brain, it was never quiet unless I was in a room with nobody present, and my brain worked out that no one is here so no one is making a noise and would quieten down, finally giving me a rest.
When I was in the office, I could “hear” the phone ringing constantly, people talking – all the normal office noises. I knew I couldn’t hear it but my brain was over compensating all the time and making up those sounds.
The tinnitus was tiring as it is constant. Way forward for me was what I call “the last resort hearing aid”: the cochlea implant. Four years ago I received a cochlear implant and although it doesn’t resolve tinnitus for many people, and to others it can even cause tinnitus- the reasons I was experiencing tinnitus could be overcome by receiving a cochlear, and thankfully they were, however this will not be the experience for all.”
The tinnitus might seem like it’s in one ear or both, in the middle of the head or even be difficult to pinpoint. It’s more common if you have an underlying hearing problem, and can be linked to exposure to loud noise, infections and anxiety.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is always advised to see your GP first, who will do the basics; check ears for wax or infection, organise a hearing test, and refer you to a local ear, nose and throat or audiology clinic.
This week is Tinnitus Awareness Week, this is an annual event which is taking place from 6-12 February. Activity will be based around the campaign ‘Together for Tinnitus’ which is intended to generate discussion about tinnitus and raise awareness of the work being carried out and support provided by the British Tinnitus Association and other services across the UK. This week they are launching a new online resource for people newly diagnosed with tinnitus: www.takeontinnitus.co.uk
The initiative aims to provide general information about tinnitus and also provide facts and ways to manage your tinnitus. Go on to their website to find out more about tinnitus and how you can get involved with Tinnitus Awareness Week.