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Expert opinion: causes, effects and treatments of tinnitus

PUBLISHED: 14:47 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:48 11 June 2018

Mark Williams of The Tinnitus Clinic (photo: Keith Chaloner)

Mark Williams of The Tinnitus Clinic (photo: Keith Chaloner)

Copyright 2008 K.CHALONER

We talked to chief audiologist at The Tinnitus Clinic, Mark Williams, who discussed causes, symptoms and treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss. Here’s what to do if you have ringing in your ears

The Tinnitus Clinic is registered with the Care Quality Commission and specialises in the rehabilitation of patients with tinnitus and sound sensitivity disorders. It is the UK’s leading provider of the latest evidence-based tinnitus treatments.

Chief audiologist Mark Williams told us about some of the causes, symptoms and ways to avoid developing tinnitus…

Symptoms of tinnitus

Tinnitus is the involuntary perception of sounds that are not localised within the ears which may also be accompanied by hearing loss.

Sufferers of tinnitus may experience ringing, buzzing, whistling or pulsing which can cause symptoms including difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping and anxiety. These symptoms have a knock-on effect in everyday life with adverse effects to patients’ social, work and home lives.

Other symptoms include sound sensitivity – occurring in approximately 30% of cases – which makes some noises that people might not normally notice such as cars braking, the sound of utensils on crockery or children’s voices intolerable.

In extreme cases, patients can develop hyperacusis, which is essentially overactive hearing and feels as if someone has turned the television up to an uncomfortable level.

Causes of tinnitus

There are two types of tinnitus and The Tinnitus Clinic treats both…

Objective tinnitus is created by internal body noises. Pulsatile in nature, this type is caused by the sound of blood vessels and veins or spontaneous contraction of muscles within the middle ear cavity which causes a clicking sound.

The most common type of tinnitus is subjective tinnitus. Causes of this include noise exposure, ear infections, noise trauma, conditions such as menieres disease, certain forms of medicine including quinine rich drugs, antiobiotics like aminoglycoside and chemotherapy agents.

These factors may cause loss of some high pitched hearing and the central nervous part of the hearing system tries to compensate for this loss but becomes over active and begins producing a high pitched noise.

Who is at risk of tinnitus?

People in professions such as construction, those working with firearms or at music venues are at more of a risk from overexposure of noise. Dentistry is another high risk job.

Other individuals at risk are those in jobs with high levels of stress, who suffer from chronic states of anxiety or anger which exacerbates an otherwise imperceptible level of tinnitus.

Are there any preventative measures?

If you are predisposed to ear infections, make sure to wear ear plugs when swimming. If you frequent loud bars, concerts or places that you have to shout to be heard, it might be an idea to purchase some earplugs which can be acquired over the counter. The Tinnitus Clinic provides a range of high-quality ear defence products and ear plugs which are custom made for your ears.

Prevention is better than treatment.

What treatments does The Tinnitus Clinic provide?

At The Tinnitus Clinic, audiological specialists take a holistic approach to the rehabilitation of tinnitus patients and those with hearing loss because they understand that these problems have emotional, not just audiological, effects. The clinic has access to Ear, Nose & Throat consultants, specialised therapy providers, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy experts and more to provide a well rounded treatment plan.

From meditation techniques and environmental sound enrichment that patients can do at home to innovative, state-of-the-art technology such as the Levo Therapy System which provides customised sound therapy to match your unique tinnitus sound, all while you sleep.

Most treatments use a very delicate sound signal that is delivered either through day time or night time devices that try and reduce the over-activity in the central auditory system by targeting the pitch of the tinnitus perception.

In the short term, these give the patient control over their perception by replacing the tinnitus signal with something far more delicate. And over time these treatments inhibit the tinnitus and render it far less vivid and easier to live with.

Get in touch

Read about successful case studies and register your details with The Tinnitus Clinic for an information pack about its evidence-based treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss.

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