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Tinnitus Awareness Week 2021

Tinnitus Awareness Week was established by the British Tinnitus Association to raise public awareness about tinnitus and promote increased funding for research in this often neglected area of health.

Some patients describe having quite severe tinnitus but are yet not bothered by it, while others are so distressed by their tinnitus that they are unable to sleep at night without medication and stop participating in daily activities that they once enjoyed. More research is needed to help us understand exactly why this difference exists, and if there are sub-types of tinnitus we could identify to help us to better target treatment.

Almost everyone experiences tinnitus at some point in life. The auditory system is always active, even in the absence of any sound. It is not clear why some people can hear this and others cannot, but it is important to remember that the presence of tinnitus does not necessarily signify that you have a disease.

On the other hand, tinnitus can arise as a result of hearing loss or other medical problems, and medical help should be sought immediately if tinnitus arises suddenly, only in one ear, or if it coincides with other symptoms like hearing loss, headaches or dizziness. In some cases a healthy person will hear their "normal" tinnitus for the first time in a quiet environment and begin to worry about the possible cause (Dr. Google is not helpful here), starting a self-perpetuating cycle that escalates stress levels, tinnitus awareness and disturbance of thoughts and emotions. This can be managed with tinnitus treatment.

In last month's post about the increase in tinnitus during the past year, I attributed the rise in tinnitus presentations not to the virus itself, but to the climate of anxiety, pressures, social isolation, depression, uncertainty, and neglected health that has come with the pandemic. Interestingly, a recent study out of the UK has concluded exactly that. Have a look at the following video from the British Tinnitus Association:


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