An interview with The Tinnitus Clinic's, Kathryn Paynter, senior clinical audiologist and manager of our Cheltenham clinic, was published in May's issue of Cotswold Life. Tinnitus affects more than 85,000 people in the Cotswolds so the publisher wanted to help its readers learn more about the condition and how to manage it.
Read the full interview here:
Tinnitus is a conscious awareness of a sound in the ears or head that is not due to an external noise. Every individual has their own very personal tinnitus tone. It can be a high or low frequency sound and its volume can vary over time.
Tinnitus is generally divided into two types: Subjective tinnitus - noises that can only be heard by the patient, which is also the most common type - and Objective tinnitus which involves noises that can be heard by somebody examining the patient.
Many people experience a ringing in the ears or you may hear a sound such as roaring, buzzing, hissing or whizzing noise - it is a constant internal sound that does not improve.
Tinnitus can also have a very negative impact on quality of life is often associated with anxiety and sleeplessness.
Tinnitus can be caused by exposure to loud noise, ear or head injuries, ear diseases or infections, emotional stress and as a side effect of medication.
It often occurs in conjunction with an auditory impairment, such as hearing loss.
Seek medical advice - get your ears checked by your GP who may refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, or an audiologist. They will be able to ensure that there is no evidence of an infection, or perhaps an underlying ear condition which needs treatment first.
Some clinicians will tell you there is nothing you can do about tinnitus - we recently carried out a poll that found more than 90 per cent of respondents were told by their healthcare professional it was something they'd have to 'get used to' - but this is wrong.
You may find that your healthcare professional does not have a lot of information on the condition - but the important part is that they refer you on to specialists who do
An audiologist will review your relevant medical history and perform a range of diagnostic tests to assess your tinnitus and audiological profile. These are designed to diagnose tinnitus type, pinpoint your tinnitus tone and identify any associated hearing loss that may be making the condition worse.
Your audiologist will discuss the treatment options available to you and the likely prognosis following treatment.
No two people's experience of tinnitus is the same, and, as such, there are a range of bespoke devices and therapy programmes on offer.
Desensitisation therapies help control your tinnitus awareness with the goal of encouraging the brain to filter out the tinnitus perception, while some products use iPod technology to help treat the condition while you sleep or during the day.
Your tinnitus is personal to you so your audiologist will be able to advise on the best course of treatment to significantly reduce your own particular symptoms.
It is very common to worry about tinnitus, but tension can seem to worsen the condition, so relaxation is important. There are a range of simple exercises you can learn from books, CDs or classes, while some people find activities including aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, yoga and tai chi have similar benefits.
Increasing the amount of background noise in your home or workplace can help lessen your focus on your tinnitus. This could include pleasant low-level sounds from a television, radio or recorded music, a fan, a ticking clock or from outside through an open window.
Avoid wearing any kind of earplugs that make it more difficult to hear, except when exposed to very loud noises. They will probably make your tinnitus seem louder as they create the ultra-quiet environment it's best to avoid.
Keeping active and involved in your interests and hobbies can enhance your quality of life, taking your focus away from tinnitus.
It is also important to monitor your overall health and wellbeing. If certain foods or drinks, activities or situations aggravate your tinnitus, consider cutting down on these or finding alternatives
The Tinnitus Clinic has clinics throughout the UK
An important part of my mission at The Tinnitus Clinic is to share our knowledge of tinnitus; its causes, how to prevent it and what to do if you are suffering from the condition. This blog will go some way in achieving this aim.