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Tinnitus is a common problem for those who are middle aged and onwards – living in an increasingly modern world where the ideology for audio technology means being the loudest and sharpest, it is becoming an increasingly common problem in the younger generation as the damage to our hearing mechanisms is somewhat constant.

The suffering from tinnitus is usually intermittent, spanning across a number of years with varying degrees of intensity. Some however, are unfortunately struck with constant, high pitched ringing in both ears. As you can probably imagine, this becomes a significant ailment, affecting mood, sleep, and general quality of life overall. The main problem with tinnitus is the fact that only the sufferer knows of the level of intensity, for it cannot in any way be quantified by examination.

However, with advances in the understanding of tinnitus within the healthcare community, the treatments and advice available are widening. To successfully assess, manage and treat the condition, a consultation is required with one of the many specialist surgeons in the country, including ENT surgeons. This enables successful identification of symptoms which is helpful as hearing loss often goes hand in hand with the condition.

There is now hope for sufferers of tinnitus – the most important advancement to date is the theory of training the brain to ignore the signals which recognise the tinnitus; a very clever approach indeed. This is known as ‘habituation’, and can undoubtedly relieve patients from their suffering through proven professional preparation.

With tinnitus, the methods used are designed to assist the brain in the coping of symptoms rather than the eradication of symptoms. If this was possible it would obviously be ideal, but unfortunately it isn’t at this point in time. With frequent training sessions, the brain will adapt to manage the irritating high pitched ringing noises so that they are deemed unimportant signals, resulting in less attention being concentrated on that frequency. As the brain learns to ignore, the gradual fade of irritation will be apparent to the patient.

Most sufferers find that the first true turning point of the habituation process is from reassurance by consultants (at either public or private hospitals), that tinnitus isn’t caused by a severe illness, or that it has no physical effect on the body in either the short or long term. Once the patient realises this, any existing worry is alleviated, and the patient can continue treatment with this knowledge in mind and no obstacle preventing the brain from learning.

Hearing aids can also be worn to help mask tinnitus, as it is usually more noticeable in quiet environments. Similarly, while trying to sleep, patients are advised to use methods of distraction such as having the radio or television on low in the background. Relaxation techniques are also often recommended by professionals nationwide; after receiving physiotherapy in Gloucestershire I will also recommend it. Massages are equally held in high regard in the aid of soothing and de-stressing patients.

By Sam Hurley (Junior Digital Marketing Consultant at FDC)