03 February 2020
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 this condition.
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 it. People who experience hearing loss or other ear problems are more commonly affected by the condition.
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 it more associated with brain activity than the ears themselves.
Getting relief from tinnitus:
For many people who experience this, 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 the ear condition initially and help a person to learn to live with it and achieve habituation (when 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 wrote about sleeping problems last month for Promedica24, 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.
Having hearing checked is important, and if hearing aids are needed and worn, they can help with both 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 have lived with it for longer.
If a referral to a specialist clinic is needed, a person may be offered options like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
Supporting a person with tinnitus:
Much more still needs to be learnt about the causes of tinnitus and the best ways to treat it, hence why the focus for this year’s Tinnitus Awareness Week is research.
In the meantime, this factsheet from the British Tinnitus Association is a great place to start if you are supporting a person living with the condition 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.
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 https://www.bethbritton.com.
To find out more about Promedica24’s live-in care, please call 0800 086 8686 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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