Tinnitus and Hearing Information Show
THIS Scotland 2018 – Tinnitus and Hearing Information Show was the largest publicly attended Tinnitus Week event in the UK. It had three distinct goals. The first was to offer an expert resource to those suffering from Tinnitus or struggling with their hearing. Secondly, it aimed to raise awareness of Tinnitus and associated conditions generally. Finally, the show encouraged health professionals to be more proactive in their interactions with patients presenting with tinnitus and or hearing issues. Opening the event, Alan Hopkirk, the show’s organiser explained why THIS? Why Tinnitus and Hearing Information Show and not just tinnitus?
The Understated Impact of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Although there is a relative lack of media exposure and public awareness, tinnitus is quite common. Perhaps 30% of us will experience it at some point in our lives but given the right (or wrong) environment anybody can experience Tinnitus. Around 10% of us live with persistent tinnitus. That is a huge number when you consider the relative lack of resources available to help. Perhaps that is why some tinnitus patients report a negative or inadequate response from their GP.
As Professor Pawel Jastreboff has said: “the biggest mistake is to make tinnitus patients believe that nothing can be done.” There are indeed effective treatment interventions and the show offered discussion about these. Health professionals, indeed health systems already straining with hefty workloads may find it hard to devote enough time to treating tinnitus. Of course, perhaps the main problem is that tinnitus treatments often require the input of time rather than the prescription of pills and potions.
Strong Connection between Tinnitus and Hearing
Tinnitus and hearing are closely interconnected. The strongest link with tinnitus is hearing loss, often noise induced. Prolonged exposure to loud noise or even a single loud noise incident can result in both hearing loss and tinnitus. This is consistent with damage to the cochlea, part of the inner ear and potential changes happening in the auditory pathway processing, leading to the perception of tinnitus.
Hearing Wellness to Reduce Tinnitus Prevalence?
In addition, many people with tinnitus deny that they have a hearing loss. This is often because it may be mild, moderate or high frequency in nature. Humans are naturally resourceful and routinely adopt sub-conscious coping strategies such as lip or speech reading to fill in the gaps to improve cognition. Recent evidence shows that this cognitive loading is not ideal. We should urge for an early intervention on hearing problems as part of a drive towards hearing wellness.
Just by encouraging hearing wellness, could we in effect reduce the presentation of tinnitus and other undesirable conditions?
Tinnitus and Hearing Loss are both Invisible
Both tinnitus and hearing loss are by their nature invisible to all but the sufferer. Also, the gradual, creeping effects of both conditions means that a patient may not notice the impact for some time. Many tend to accept the conditions as an unavoidable part of ageing and believe that nothing can be done. They resign themselves to their lot. Therefore, when someone does present with a concern it is important that they are taken seriously. A simple hearing test and resulting hearing wellness intervention could produce major benefits.
Tinnitus is Very Common
Tinnitus is very common across all ages; children have it and adults have it. However, people who are particularly bothered by it, aren’t as common. If one in ten has tinnitus, you are likely to know several who have it. However, if only one in a hundred has bothersome tinnitus you are much less likely to know of their plight. This is true whether you are a doctor, audiologist or even a tinnitus sufferer. For many therefore the thought might be “what’s the big deal?” and for the sufferer perhaps “this can’t be normal.”
The Impact of Tinnitus Can be Devastating
People with bothersome tinnitus can have their lives turned upside down. It can have an impact on all aspects of their lives including work, family and friends. These are the people who need access to time-consuming treatments, ensuring their hearing wellness. Their fears need to be addressed so that they understand what’s happening to them. Crucially they need to know that effective treatments are available and also how they can access them.
And thus THIS
The Tinnitus and Hearing Information Show offered those attending access to informative and interesting presentations. In addition, the opportunity to talk one to one with an expert to discuss ways forward was for many unique and invaluable. We are pleased to have raised awareness amongst the public and the feedback from the show on the day and afterwards has been amazing. Our sincere hope is that THIS continues to help those affected by tinnitus and/or hearing issues. We also believe that THIS can contribute to a better understanding amongst health professionals and offer far-reaching benefits for all concerned.