Veterans Hearing Are Committed To Helping UK Veterans With Tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a sound heard in the ear without there being a sound within the environment. The sound can be anything from a buzz to a whistle and I have even heard of a patient hearing a symphonic orchestra which she found quite disconcerting.

This is known as musical tinnitus and is usually occurs in older people with hearing loss and musical interest. It can be in one ear or two and sometimes difficult to pinpoint where with some clients taking a while to realise it is an internal noise and not external.

Can I get tinnitus?

Anybody and everybody can get tinnitus, it is very common, and people can even be born with tinnitus for no apparent reason.

Tinnitus can be associated with: hearing loss, with certain medication, associated with a blocked ear – either in the middle ear chamber or outer ear chamber with wax.

People are affected differently by tinnitus. Some people have it for years and aren’t bothered by it, however, the other end of the spectrum is some individuals are very upset by it and it can be debilitating.

Can I stop my tinnitus?

Because we don’t know for sure what the actual cause of tinnitus is, it is difficult to create a cure as there are so many reasons that can cause tinnitus. It isn’t an illness or a disease. However, there are solutions to certain causes such as the ear wax being removed, working with the stress levels in your body, or a middle ear issue which may be resolved, etc.

What should I do if I think I have tinnitus?

Initially, consult your GP or local audiologist who can perform some investigation. Your audiologist may have the equipment to further test very quickly which your GP cannot access without a referral to an ENT specialist which may take time. All the while you are waiting for your brain will begin to rehabilitate to the tinnitus, although initially, you may find the sounds quite upsetting and if you suffer from anxiety it may increase this.

It is a physiological response that you cannot control as it is the body’s natural fight or flight system working to potentially protect you. An audiologist can provide a report to give to your GP which will point your GP in the right direction to support you, and often the audiologist can help with tinnitus treatment once it is ruled out that there is no medical underlying condition to your tinnitus.

However, if you have unilateral tinnitus (tinnitus in one ear) and it isn’t one of the conditions that can be cured ie. Wax or middle ear issue, you are required to be seen by an ENT specialist to rule out any more serious underlying causes.

Will it ever get any better?

Yes. When you first hear tinnitus it can be quite frightening and alarming, and your brain will focus on the sound for a while just to ensure it is safe and that it won’t harm you. But with time, habituation will occur.

Habituation is when you hear a sound that eventually you lose ie a clock in a room that over time you don’t hear anymore unless you focus on it. The main thing is to try and stay calm, and seek professional advice to see if there is a solution for stopping the tinnitus and if not, a way to support you with it.

What can I do to improve my tinnitus now?

There are many groups for Tinnitus support all over the UK that can shed some light on your current situation. The British Tinnitus Association are the leading light of research in this area and are a great resource for the latest information and new developments within the field of tinnitus. Try giving them a call.
This is to help with the anxiety you may feel, try playing gentle music in the background to keep your ears from listening to the tinnitus. Try yoga, walking or anything that makes you wind down a bit.
If your tinnitus is related to your hearing loss then wearing a hearing aid will quite often silence the tinnitus, and is one of the easiest ways to “cure” the tinnitus.
Tinnitus will sound worse when it’s quiet. Most people struggle to sleep at night because of the sound in their head. So put on some light music or the tv in the background during the day, and at night there is specialist equipment you can purchase to play sounds by your pillow or simply put ear pods in until you are ready to sleep.

What do I do if I can’t sleep?

It’s not surprising with the wind howling in your ear in complete silence that you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. Worrying about the tinnitus, the lack of sleep just isn’t conducive to relaxing and this will just make you anxious.

This is where coping mechanisms will help by learning to relax or calm your mind so take the time out to find out about these forms of support. Play relaxing music on a timer to give yourself time to get to sleep.
Avoid the obvious stimulants at night like coffee and alcohol or keep a notebook of when you drink this and how it affects your sleep with the tinnitus and start to get a feel for what affects you.

What therapies are available for tinnitus?

There are several different types of therapies that can help reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life, these include: CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), Mindfulness, TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) all of which are helpful and can be found locally or by contacting the BTA.

Read the British Tinnitus Association Publication – Soldiering On: The Impact of Tinnitus on Veterans >>

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