“My tinnitus is always with me. However, with the support of my local Sensory Support Team, I have developed tools which enable me to manage my tinnitus on a day to day basis.”
During Tinnitus Week 2018, health professionals from the Health and Social Care Board, in collaboration with Action on Hearing Loss, Hearing Link and the British Tinnitus Association, are raising awareness of tinnitus and urging people with symptoms to seek help.
Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your head, when there is no sound externally. Tinnitus is often described as “ringing in the ears”, however, other sounds can be heard including buzzing, humming, hissing or roaring. Tinnitus can develop gradually over time or occur suddenly and often occurs along with some degree of hearing loss.
Encouraging people who suspect they may have tinnitus to seek help, Service User, David McKee, who lives with hearing loss and tinnitus, said: “I was first diagnosed with tinnitus and hearing impairment in 2008. My tinnitus is always with me. However, with the support of my local Trust Sensory Support Team, I have developed tools which enable me to manage my tinnitus on a day to day basis.
“By selecting from basic masking techniques to distract from the sound, good sleep hygiene and engaging in cognitive behavioural therapy, I have developed coping strategies that work for me. Whilst not a fix-all, these have been extremely useful in my day to day battle with tinnitus.”
The aim of Tinnitus Week is to raise awareness of the condition, which affects approximately 1 in 10 of the population in the UK. People who continually or regularly hear sounds such as buzzing, ringing or humming in their ears should see their GP in the first instance. An examination can identify whether the problem might be caused by a condition that can be easily treated such as an ear infection. GPs can also do some simple hearing checks or refer to a hospital specialist for further tests and treatment. They can facilitate access to a local Trust Sensory Support Team or the Tinnitus Support Service delivered by Action on Hearing Loss.
Donal Diffin, Social Care Commissioning Lead at the Health and Social Care Board, said: “The Health and Social Care Board has been tasked with taking forward the Tinnitus Strategy for Northern Ireland, developed by Action on Hearing Loss. Work is ongoing on addressing the need for an integrated approach to treating people with tinnitus.
“During Tinnitus Week it is vital that we contribute to the broader conversation about how people can manage tinnitus and make the public aware of how this condition impacts on people’s lives. By visiting their GP in the first instance, people can get help or gain access to treatment and support through their local Trust Sensory Support Team and the local Tinnitus Support Service delivered by Action on Hearing Loss. GPs can also refer patients to their local Trust Audiology Department when appropriate.”
For information on symptoms, causes and treatment of tinnitus visit the conditions page at NI Direct at www.nidirect.gov.uk/conditions/tinnitus. Further information on tinnitus and hearing loss is available at Action On Hearing Loss www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk, the British Tinnitus Association www.tinnitus.org.uk and Hearing Link www.hearinglink.org.