Raising awareness of tinnitus – causes and ways to find reliefRaising awareness of tinnitus – causes and ways to find relief
In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton looks at the effects of living with tinnitus and offers some practical advice
Imagine hearing buzzing or ringing in your ears or head that isn’t coming from the world around you. Seems inconceivable? Not for someone living with tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a debilitating condition where a person perceives noise that doesn’t actually have an external source. It may sound quite innocuous, but for the 30% of people who experience it in their lifetimes and the 13% for whom it becomes a persistent problem, the effects can be far reaching, including interfering with daily living and contributing to sleeping problems.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease or an illness. The exact cause of it isn’t clear, but specialists agree that mental or physical changes in a person’s health, for example an ear infection or acute stress, can trigger tinnitus. People who experience hearing loss or other ear problems are more commonly affected by tinnitus.
In our daily lives, everything we hear travels into our ears and is interpreted by our brain. This can result in a huge amount of information for the brain to process, and usually it filters out background noises to concentrate on more significant sounds. If something happens in this feedback system, perhaps as a result of hearing loss, the brain attempts to compensate by trying to get more information from our ears. The extra information can then end up being the sounds associated with tinnitus, making tinnitus more associated with brain activity than the ears themselves.
Getting relief from tinnitus
For many people who experience tinnitus, it’s trial and error to find what helps. Relaxation and mindfulness techniques – which Promedica24’s live-in home care workers can support clients to practice – often calm the anxiety that is associated with noticing tinnitus initially and help a person to learn to live with their tinnitus and achieve habituation (when tinnitus sounds become less noticeable).
Many people use background sounds – music, the radio or natural noise – to alleviate tinnitus as it’s generally more noticeable in a quiet environment, for example when you are reading. Playing soft sounds through the night can also help anyone who struggles with tinnitus at night-time.
I’ve written about sleeping problems previously, detailing the things I do to help myself. Although I don’t have tinnitus, the hypnosis app I use has a section entitled ‘Overcome Tinnitus’ which is perhaps further evidence of how sound can be used at night to alleviate many problems, including tinnitus.
Having hearing checked is important, and if hearing aids are needed and worn, they can help with hearing loss and tinnitus. Peer support groups like those offered by the British Tinnitus Association can be a great source of mutual support and understanding for people who are both newly diagnosed and who’ve lived with tinnitus for longer.
If a referral to a specialist tinnitus clinic is needed, a person may be offered options like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
Supporting a person with tinnitus
This factsheet from the British Tinnitus Association is a great place to start if you are supporting a person with tinnitus and want to learn more about how you can help them.
In common with many of my clients, Promedica24 support people living with tinnitus that is both diagnosed and undiagnosed, with live-in care workers who are sensitive to the support that is required. In addition, as signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, Promedica24 are supportive of the Aged Veterans Project that looked at the impact of tinnitus on UK veterans.
If you would like to find out more or access our services, please visit promedica24.co.uk to use our online chat service. You can also get in touch with our team on 0800 086 8686 or by sending an email to email@example.com. If you’d like to assess your care and support needs rapidly online, we have a tool available for you to do this.
We can provide live-in care services across the whole of England and we would also encourage you to visit our testimonials page to read what our clients and their families have said about our services.
About the author:
Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care.