Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your body, rather than from an outside source.
It’s often described as “ringing in the ears”, although several sounds can be heard, including:
Some people may hear sounds similar to music or singing, and others hear noises that beat in time with their pulse (pulsatile tinnitus).
You may also notice that your hearing is not as good as it used to be or you’re more sensitive to everyday sounds (hyperacusis).
Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. For some people it may come and go and only be a minor irritation.
However, it can sometimes be continuous and have a significant impact on everyday life. Severe cases can be very distressing, affect concentration, and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and depression.
In many cases, tinnitus will get better gradually over time. But it’s important to seek medical advice to see if an underlying cause can be found and treated, and to help you find ways to cope with the problem.
You should see your GP if you continually or regularly hear sounds such as buzzing, ringing or humming in your ears.
They can examine your ears to see if the problem might be caused by a condition they could easily treat, such as an ear infection or earwax build-up. They can also do some simple checks to see if you have any hearing loss.
If necessary, your GP can refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests and treatment.
Anglia Ruskin University has launched a new internet-based project to help people suffering from a distressing and debilitating hearing-related condition, known as tinnitus.
It is believed that around 10% of the population suffer from tinnitus and it is more common amongst older adults. Tinnitus can rarely be cured and is therefore a chronic, life-long condition. Experiencing tinnitus can impact on sleep, mood and concentration. It may also lead to anxiety and depression.
To be able to offer help to those distressed by tinnitus, a team of researcher have developed a novel internet-based intervention called Tackling Tinnitus. This is an online programme, sharing a range of techniques, to help people with tinnitus better manage their symptoms.
The project is a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin and Linköping University in Sweden, who are world-leaders in the field of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy.
Tackling Tinnitus aims to reduce the distress, anxiety and depression associated with the condition. The techniques used aim to help sufferers cope with the emotional and physical side-effects such as stress, lack of concentration and insomnia.
What sets this intervention apart is that participants will be guided by an experienced audiologist during the eight-week programme, enabling them to ask questions and receive feedback on their progress.
“This programme is completely free and provides equal access and the same information for all participants, regardless of where they live, bypassing the postcode lottery that can be found in healthcare.”
Full details of the study protocol have been published in the journal BMJ Open. Academics are currently running a validation study and are inviting adults who have been struggling with tinnitus for at least three months, and have access to the internet, to participate in the next phase.
Anyone interested in taking part in the trial can get more information and register interest by visiting the project website www.tacklingtinnitus.co.uk