You may be surprised to learn that 10% of the UK population experience tinnitus. A tenth of these people report that tinnitus has severe effects on their quality of life. Tinnitus is defined as a noise in the head or ears which has no external sound source.
Did you know there are currently 61 British Tinnitus Association (BTA) support groups across the country for those who experience or know someone who is affected by tinnitus? Our local club is the Bournemouth and District Tinnitus Group of which Keeley has been a member since 2012 and has more recently been appointed role of Chairperson.
Recently the group had an interesting meeting where the members talked about their own experiences with tinnitus. Find out more below.
Describe the sound of your tinnitus?
Bleeps that come and go. Hissing. Swooshing. A low pitch drumming. The ringing of about three tiny metal bells. Like I’m driving down the M23 with the driver window open 1/4”. The hiss of a deep fat fryer. Squeaks and squeals. Buzzing noises. Similar to the sounds you hear when having a hearing test.
To your knowledge, does anything affect your tinnitus? E.g. food, drink, noise?
Tea or coffee in the evening. Caffeine. Red wine. White wine. Stress. Tiredness. Loud traffic noise. Dehydration. Dairy foods. I’m lucky as nothing seems to worsen my tinnitus. Anxiety.
How does your tinnitus make you feel?
Tired. Frustrated. Why have I got this noise? It affects my hearing and my concentration. I worry that my tinnitus may get louder in future. Stressed. Isolated. It doesn’t bother me. It irritates me and I find it annoying. Intrusive. It concerns my partner as they do not like to see me suffer. I sometimes feel I would just like five minutes’ relief.
Are there any methods you use to help manage your tinnitus?
I try to ignore it and distract myself. Keep myself busy/occupied. Relaxation breathing exercises. Tell myself it is not there—mind over matter! Avoid noisy places. Tai-chi. Hearing aids. Gardening. It doesn’t bother me anymore. Add background noise e.g. have the radio on. The support group is therapeutic, it’s good to know I’m not alone with this noise. Yoga. I use a pillow speaker as my sleep can be disturbed by my tinnitus. Reading. Conversation—it distracts me from my tinnitus. I’m lucky my tinnitus seems to stop after a short while. Singing in a choir.
Results from recent BTA Survey
Tinnitus can affect people in so many different ways. For some tinnitus has a mild impact on their lives but for others it can be very distressing. The BTA recently carried out a small survey on the effectiveness of tinnitus support groups and produced a booklet with the results. The survey highlighted that for some attending a support group was a considerable benefit. These attendees saw improvements in emotional health and wellbeing, a greater understanding of the condition and how to manage their tinnitus on a day-to-day basis.