Tinnitus, that buzzing whooshing or sometimes musical sound that happens inside our head that no one but us can hear.
All too often as a hearing care professional do I hear or even said myself many times ‘there is nothing you can do about ringing in your ears you just have to learn to live with it’. This is a very real answer we hear not just from our GP’s but also audiologists…. But why?
Nobody really knows exactly what tinnitus is. It’s still a bit of a dark science but there is significant knowledge about what causes tinnitus and what can aggravate tinnitus. So much knowledge that to say there is nothing can be done is just not good enough anymore especially from a hearing care professional.
From the hearing care professional point of view I put the lack of tinnitus treatment and attempts to help tinnitus down to lack of current knowledge and historical attitudes towards tinnitus. Hearing care professionals back in the day would run a mile if someone even spoke the word! You have tinnitus! Oh I must refer you! Something must be wrong you need to see the ENT!
It’s true that tinnitus can be caused by conditions that must be looked at by other health professionals but in the main tinnitus should be examined or even treated by your hearing care professional. After all the most common cause of both tinnitus and hearing loss is impacted ear wax which can be easily removed with microsuction. Only after extensive investigation and exploration by your hearing care professional should a recommendation of referral be made to the GP.
If your hearing care audiologist supplies your GP with a full case history and test details regarding your tinnitus you will have a far better chance of receiving the right treatment and being signposted to the right health care professional.
So why are tinnitus assessments so hard to find? Modern hearing care & audiology in the most is either supplied on the high street in well-known brands such as Boots & Specsavers or in our brilliant NHS audiology departments. Although these big companies do a great job in raising awareness and helping hearing loss their biggest challenge for offering in depth bespoke testing is time and resource.
A proper tinnitus assessment is an in depth procedure which involves great care and attention especially to emotional aspects of the tinnitus sufferers life. It requires a lot of questioning and investigating into the impact of the tinnitus and the potential causes that are aggravating it.
Tinnitus assessments and solutions require great skill in coaching the patient and helping them understand why they have tinnitus or what they can do about it. Most hearing care professionals focus just on hearing loss and solutions for that hearing loss.
Although hearing aids if needed will go a long way to helping your tinnitus if you have hearing loss they won’t help you understand your tinnitus fully or what causes your tinnitus or aggravates it. Only a full in-depth tinnitus assessment will achieve these results.
If you suffer from tinnitus seek out a professional who won’t say like I did all those years ago ‘There’s nothing you can do about it, live with it’. Seek out a professional who will say let’s have a go because we may just be able to either get rid of that tinnitus or at the very least help you understand and cope with the tinnitus.
What your hearing test should look like if you have tinnitus –
If you are suffering from ringing in the ears don’t settle for nothing can be done live with it! Look for a professional who will be able to at least investigate and offer some solutions because they absolutely exist and there is probably one for you!
Steven Ross (MSHAA, RHAD)
58 Cadzow Street,