This is National Tinnitus Week which aims to raise awareness of this sometimes ignored condition.
Tinnitus is the latin word for ringing.
Many people experience ringing, buzzing, or other noises in their head that have no obvious external cause, this is referred to as tinnitus.
Mild tinnitus is actually very common and about 10 per cent of the population have it all the time. Theres a good chance that someone in your family has the condition.
Tinnitus in itself is not a disease and although the full mechanisms are still not understood research is continuing and most people can learn to manage their tinnitus with a little advice and support.
It’s worth remembering that tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious disease though it’s normally recommended that a sufferer have a full hearing assessment combined with a visit to your GP to rule out any underlying treatable cause.
Tinnitus is often a temporary experience and most people report hearing tinnitus at some point in their lives, for example after noise exposure or even during a common cold.
In most cases tinnitus will disappear naturally and no treatment or management is required.
The brain sometimes “habituates” or learns this sound and decides that the sound is not interesting so it no longer brings it to your conscious attention and although the brain can still detect the tinnitus sound it does not focus on it and you stop “hearing” it.
For those people that do not habituate to the tinnitus naturally it can often be because they subconsciously concentrating and telling the brain to give it priority and to listen out for it.
The brain is extremely skilled at picking out and filtering sounds we ourselves have trained it to hear.
If you think about how often you have been in a very noisy crowded room and somebody says your name even if they are not talking about us we are aware of our name being said. The brain is set up to see our name as important and pick it up almost above everything else.
Conversely if you move in to a house next to a noisy road for the first few nights you might find it hard to sleep then the brain begins to filter this noise out.
Sometimes people remain aware of their tinnitus because they are highly anxious or stressed and the body releases hormones that make us more aware of the tinnitus which in turn makes them more stressed and their tinnitus worse!
There are many techniques you can use to help decrease your tinnitus and help you manage your condition. From hearing aids and sound maskers to relaxation techniques and special tones to stimulate the hair cells in your ear to give relief for a few hours at a time.
To coincide with National Tinnitus Week, Cluistrom Hearing Centre in Kirkcaldy is running a free tinnitus awareness workshop in their office in Nicol Street on Saturday, February 8 from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m.
The workshop includes free advice, fee hearing tests and support with a presentation from one of the United Kingdom’s leading experts in tinnitus and its treatment.