Head of Customer Content Experience
Audiology Expert & Founder
Tinnitus Awareness Week is an annual campaign dedicated to increasing awareness about tinnitus, a condition characterised by the perception of ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears. Held typically in the first week of February, this observance aims to educate the public about the causes, impact, and management of tinnitus.
It provides a platform to promote understanding and empathy for individuals living with tinnitus, as well as to highlight available resources and support networks. Tinnitus Awareness Week emphasises the importance of prevention, early intervention, and ongoing research in improving the quality of life for those affected by this persistent auditory phenomenon.
In light of this awareness week, we take a brief look into this debilitating condition to raise awareness and discuss what treatments and support therapies are out there to relieve the symptoms and spikes of tinnitus.
This invisible condition is the perception of sound within your ears or head that is not from an external sound source. It is known as the ‘ringing of the ears’, but it may take the form of a buzzing sound, whistling sound or a combination of them all. These sounds can be heard from one or both ears and/or in the headspace.
It is often hard to distinguish exactly where the sounds are coming from and can vary in frequency and duration (in severe cases – consistent). It is also hard to convince people of it, as the sounds are generally subjective to just the person who is suffering and the only one who can hear it.
How can tinnitus affect individuals? It can affect the sufferer in various ways and may alter in intensity throughout the day. For instance, the symptoms may seem more intense in the evening when you’ve come home after experiencing loud live music. Sadly, in most cases, people suffer from tinnitus every day and ultimately this affects their quality of life.
How can tinnitus affect quality of life? The high-pitched sounds decrease their concentration levels, and affects sleep pattern and their ability to maintain focus is nearly impossible. What is most unfortunate, is that it opens the door to social anxiety and depression if support is not shown or given. Whatever level of tinnitus people experience, the common factor is the ability to focus on other sounds or conversations is always a daily challenge.
Certain postures can highlight the frequencies that sufferers absorb. The pressure changes in your body when you move your head or when you stay still can alter the severity and volume of the tinnitus they experience. Similarly, when they feel tired, stressed and anxious – the condition can worsen.
Tinnitus isn’t an illness or a disease but is believed to be a symptom of an inner ear problem or an abnormality in the hearing pathways to the brain. In most cases tinnitus occurs when the inner ear is damaged, but here are some other suspected causes:
What you hear is variable – you may experience ringing, hissing, whistling, whooshing, roaring or clicking. The sounds can be short in duration, alter in volume or be a continual occurrence. The volume is unique to every sufferer and while one person may hear tinnitus some parts of the day – others struggle with consistently loud and unchanging noise all the time.
Is tinnitus and hearing loss linked in any way? Tinnitus is the second most common form of hearing loss (after age-related) and highlights that something is wrong with the auditory system and/or the cochlea of the inner ear, the auditory nerve and parts of the brain that process sound.
Generally, tinnitus goes hand in hand with hearing loss because of this and would indicate that there has been some noise damage in the past. However, around 10% of people who suffer from tinnitus don’t have any form of hearing loss, even if the condition is severe.
There are many ways in which you can seek support and relieve your tinnitus symptoms. Here are a few recommendations:
Like with most health problems an early diagnosis is vital to providing you with the right support and regaining quality of life. As soon as you start experiencing the signs of tinnitus book an appointment with an audiologist who will assess your hearing and offer you advice and treatment. You might be referred to a hearing therapist or coach who can provide CBT and TRT tinnitus therapy support.
It is important to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy attitude toward exercise. A healthy body promotes a healthy mind and exercise can be a great distraction away from tinnitus. A lot of sufferers practice meditation and yoga for a more mindful approach to the condition.
Introduce background noise like audiobooks, relaxing music and the radio. This helps to distract the mind and allows you to concentrate on something more soothing, rather than the annoying and constant tinnitus levels.
That being said, it is important to keep the background noise lower than the tinnitus levels, as sometimes the tinnitus volume can spike afterwards and cause more suffering.
Studies indicate that digital hearing aids can indeed reduce the impact of tinnitus for a large percentage of individuals. In a 2007 US survey of hearing care professionals, they reported that about 60% of their patients with tinnitus had their symptoms eased through hearing aids, and roughly 22% of their patients had experienced significant relief.
It is recommended to use hearing aids for those with hearing loss and tinnitus. They can be effective either used alone or as part of a wider package of therapy. Some of the potential advantages of using hearing aids for tinnitus include:
Hearing aids can amplify external sounds, which can help to mask tinnitus and make it less noticeable. This can be especially helpful in noisy environments or when trying to sleep.
Some hearing aids have special programs or settings that can deliver sound therapy for tinnitus. This can involve the use of soothing, calming sounds or white noise to help mask tinnitus.
If tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, hearing aids can help to improve communication by amplifying sounds and making them easier to hear.
By helping to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus and improving communication, hearing aids can contribute to an overall improvement in quality of life.
It's important to note that while hearing aids can be a helpful treatment for tinnitus, they are not a cure and may not work for everyone. It's always a good idea to discuss treatment options with an audiologist after your hearing healthcare consultation.
Call us free on 0800 567 7621 for a free consultation with one of our audiologists today to explore the hearing aids that can manage your tinnitus symptoms. You can also contact us to discuss any of the information written in the article or to ask anything regarding other hearing healthcare issues.
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If you are looking at this page then it is likely that an audiologist has suggested that you purchase this particular hearing aid, so is this the best model for you?
In general, any audiologist will always be recommending to you the model that best suits your needs. Here is a useful check list to make sure that is the case.
If in doubt, feel free to give us a call. That's what we're here for.
If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Here are the audiological reasons why:
Localisation. The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the miniscule time delays as well as the difference in loudness of each sound reaching the ears, the person is able to accurately locate a sound source. Simply put, if you have better hearing on one side than the other, you can't accurately tell what direction sounds are coming from.
Less amplification required. A phenomena known as “binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower and more natural volume setting than than if you wore only one hearing aid.
Head shadow effect. High frequencies, the part of your hearing that gives clarity and meaning to speech sounds, cannot bend around your head. Only low frequencies can. Therefore if someone is talking on your unaided side you are likely to hear that they are speaking, but be unable to tell what they have said.
Noise reduction. The brain has it’s own built in noise reduction which is only really effective when it is receiving information from both ears. If only one ear is aided, even with the best hearing aid in the world, it will be difficult for you to hear in background noise as your brain is trying to retain all of the sounds (including background noise) rather than filtering it out.
Sound quality. We are designed to hear in stereo. Only hearing from one side sounds a lot less natural to us.
For most people, the main benefit of a rechargeable hearing aid is simple convenience. We are used to plugging in our phones and other devices overnight for them to charge up.
For anybody with poor dexterity or issues with their fingers, having a rechargeable aid makes a huge difference as normal hearing aid batteries are quite small and some people find them fiddly to change.
One downside is that if you forget to charge your hearing aid, then it is a problem that can't be instantly fixed. For most a 30 minute charge will get you at least two or three hours of hearing, but if you are the type of person who is likely to forget to plug them in regularly then you're probably better off with standard batteries.
Rechargeable aids are also a little bit bigger and are only available in behind the ear models.
Finally, just like with a mobile phone, the amount of charge you get on day one is not going to be the same as you get a few years down the line. Be sure to ask what the policy is with the manufacturer warranty when it comes to replacing the battery.
For most people, the answer is yes. But it's never that simple.
The majority of hearing problems affect the high frequencies a lot more than the low ones. Therefore open fitting hearing aids sound a lot more natural and ones that block your ears up can make your own voice sound like you are talking with your head in a bucket. Therefore in-ear aids tend to be less natural.
However the true answer is we can't tell until we have had a look in your ears to assess the size of your ear canal, and until we have tested your hearing to see which frequencies are being affected.
People with wider ear canals tend to have more flexibility, also there are open fitting modular CIC hearing aids now that do not block your ears.
There is also the age old rule to consider, that a hearing aid will not help you if it's sat in the drawer gathering dust. If the only hearing aid you would be happy wearing is one that people can't see, then that's what you should get.
Most people can adapt to any type of hearing aid, as long as they know what to expect. Have an honest conversation with your audiologist as to what your needs are.
Generally speaking, six or more. Unless it's none at all.
The number of channels a hearing aid has is often a simplistic way an audiologist will use to explain why one hearing aid is better than another, but channels are complex and it is really not that straightforward.
Hearing aids amplify sounds of different frequencies by different amounts. Most people have lost more high frequencies than low and therefore need more amplification in the high frequencies. The range of sounds you hear are split into frequency bands or channels and the hearing aids are set to provide the right amount of hearing at each frequency level.
Less than six channels and this cannot be done with much accuracy, so six is the magic number. However, a six channel aid is typically very basic with few other features and is suitable only for hearing a single speaker in a quiet room. The number of channels is not what you should be looking at, it's more the rest of the technology that comes with them.
As a final note, different manufacturers have different approaches. One method is not necessarily better than any other. For example some manufacturers have as many as 64 channels in their top aids. Most tend to have between 17 and 20. One manufacturer has no channels at all.
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