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24 days to go

Our Deaf awareness week theme wouldn’t be complete without discussing tinnitus. My own experience in the previous two days postings is a little unusual as it was immediate and severe associated with sudden hearing loss. It’s not like this for everyone.

The definition of tinnitus is noise you hear that is not caused by any sound outside of the ear. The noise may be described as ringing, whining, buzzing, roaring, whistling, hissing. It can be continuous or intermittent and can affect one or both ears.  Occasionally it can be a rhythmic pulse in time with your heart beat. There are many causes including ear wax, ear infection; occupation-related working regularly such as in proximity to loud noise such as explosion or jack-hammers; it can also be a symptom of some medical conditions. It is often associated with hearing loss, especially age related hearing loss when it usually comes on gradually. Anything up to one in five of us are thought to be affected by it at some time.

Often it’s relatively benign and may not bother those who have it. For others, particularly if it is loud and persistent, it can interfere with daily activities, impact concentration, stop them sleeping and be the cause of clinical depression.

There are things you can do to help. It’s not usually a sign there’s anything serious to worry about but if you develop tinnitus and it doesn’t go away after a few weeks or if it’s getting worse or interfering with your daily life then please see your GP.

For those with hearing loss, correcting this, if possible, by wearing hearing aids can help alleviate the tinnitus.

Being more physically active is often indirectly helpful as it develops an overall improved sense of wellbeing enabling you to cope better with this, and other, conditions. Also, if you’re busy with other pursuits this provides distraction from intrusive sounds.

Using various relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help with your perceptions of the noise(s).

Tinnitus is more often manageable when there is other noise around which masks the sound. However, when you’re in a more quiet environment such as going to bed at night, it can become troublesome and stop you sleeping. If this happens it’s often helpful to have some gentle music playing very quietly nearby.

Whist distressing in the extreme at first, I found that over a period of a year, my brain learned to embrace the noise as ‘normal for me’ despite it’s considerable ongoing impact on my daily life. In the early days and weeks it’s not easy to live with so please do seek help if this is how it affects you.

As well as your GP, you can find some helpful information from the British Tinnitus Society





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