Get help with tinnitus

Gerry Thompson
Gerry Thompson

IT can be troublesome, tiring and have a serious effect on your quality of life.

Tinnitus is a condition which affects ten per cent of the UK population.

An awareness week is on the way and Chris Cordner found out more.

LET’S start by clearing up the misconceptions. Tinnitus does not just affect the elderly.

Studies show that it can happen to people of any age including children.

It’s no respecter of people and affects the famous as well as the man in the street. The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) is determined to raise awareness.

But what is tinnitus and what can you do to find out more about it?

Tinnitus is a term that describes the sensation of hearing a noise in the absence of an external sound. It could be ringing, whistling, and buzzing but more complex sounds may also be reported.

Gerry Thompson, the deputy head of service for audiology at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is very common and most people experience brief problems depending on what it is associated with.

“Everyone looks for the miracle cure and the quick fix but there is no quick fix. Tinnitus is managed in different ways with therapies and your first line of contact should be your GP.

“From your GP, they will identify what you need. You may just have wax in your ear or you may need a referral.”

Areas such as Hartlepool have high incidences because of the town’s concentration of industry and loud machinery.

But other causes can include loud music, trauma, stress, disease of the ear, side-effects of medication and coping with grief.

BTA ambassador Eddy Temple Morris - a record producer, television presenter and DJ - suffers from tinnitus.

He said: “I believe it is crucial that music lovers should be encouraged to continue enjoying music, but that they should also be better informed about how to protect their long-term hearing.

“Working with the BTA, and with the support of many of those friends and colleagues with tinnitus, I want to spread the message about the importance of protecting your ears when attending gigs, concerts and when listening to very loud music.

“The long-term hearing health of the nation is at stake and I am making it my priority to do all I can to support the BTA in its aim to raise better tinnitus awareness.”

The BTA is gearing up for National Tinnitus Awareness Week from Friday, February 4.

The BTA will build on the success of its 2010 campaign which focused on exposure to loud music and how it can cause tinnitus and permanent hearing damage.

This year, it will be extended to people of all ages, especially those exposed to loud music.

Free support and advice is available via the BTA freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527.