Editor: This probably isn’t news to anyone who suffers from tinnitus. This press release from Britain’s RNID reveals that even doctors don’t know much about this surprisingly common condition!
One in seven people have experienced the symptoms of tinnitus – noises inside the ears or head – but 70 per cent of GPs surveyed have never had any training on the condition, new research from national charity RNID reveals today.
The charity found that 15 per cent of those surveyed – which equates to more than seven million people across the UK – had experienced tinnitus, often described as ringing, whistling, humming or buzzing in the ears or head, for more than a day (1).
Yet although RNID research has found that tinnitus can cause severe distress and suffering – disrupting people’s work, relationships and sex lives (2) – less than a third of doctors surveyed say they have had any training on the condition (3).
If you have tinnitus you are not alone.
RNID is revealing the shocking extent of this hidden health problem on the same day it launches a new web service – http://www.tuneouttinnitus.org.uk (external link) – with information to help those with tinnitus understand the condition and advice on simple techniques and equipment to manage it.
RNID is calling for GPs to take a more understanding and holistic approach to patients with tinnitus, directing those with mild tinnitus to RNID for help and referring those whose condition has a severe impact on their lives to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
Brian Lamb, RNID’s director of communications, said: “Tinnitus can be a debilitating condition for many people, leaving them feeling isolated and stressed – with sometimes disastrous consequences for their work and personal lives.
“This can be compounded by a lack of understanding amongst GPs who aren’t always aware of how to help patients manage their tinnitus, and may simply turn them away with no advice other than to ‘learn to live with it.’
“But if you have tinnitus you are not alone. Simple techniques and equipment – from relaxation tips to sound therapies that provide distraction from the noises of tinnitus – can be used to manage the condition.
“RNID’s new web service, and our dedicated Tinnitus Helpline, provide expert information and tips to help people ‘tune out tinnitus’ so they can get on with their lives.”
Notes to editors:
1. BMRB Omnibus research on tinnitus, conducted February 2007 through face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 adults, aged over 15 years of age, in Great Britain (excludes Northern Ireland). While this new research indicates that more than seven million people experience tinnitus, previous estimates by the Medical Research Council had showed that just 4.7 million people (10 per cent of the population) have experienced tinnitus [MRC 1987].
2. RNID research published in February 2006 found that, of 890 people with tinnitus who were surveyed, 41 per cent said the condition had a negative effect on their personal relationships, with 27 blaming the damage to their relationship on a reduced sex drive, and 36 per cent on a lack of understanding from their partner. 42 per cent of respondents said their tinnitus had a negative effect on their work life.
3. Research on tinnitus conducted by doctors.net.uk, February 2007, amongst 506 GPs.
4. RNID funds £50,000 of research each year to find a cure for tinnitus. At the moment, there are no drugs available to specifically treat tinnitus alone.
5. RNID is the national charity working to change the world for the UK’s 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people. We do this with the help of our members, by campaigning and lobbying, raising awareness of deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus, providing services and through social, medical and technical research.
6. For further information about RNID or to become a member, visit http://www.rnid.org.uk (external link), contact RNID’s Information Line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. For tinnitus enquiries, visit http://www.tuneouttinnitus.org.uk (external link), contact RNID’s Tinnitus Helpline on 0808 808 6666 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email http://email@example.com.
Top tips for tuning out tinnitus include:
1. Sound therapy – A wide range of ‘relaxer’ products, which play soothing sounds to distract people from the noise of tinnitus, are available from RNID’s products range. Visit http://www.rnid.org.uk/shop (external link) to find out more.
2. Relaxation – Meditation, yoga or just time out for a warm bath and soothing music can all help – many people notice their tinnitus more if they are worried or tired. Relaxation CDs are available from RNID’s products range at http://www.rnid.org.uk/shop (external link).
3. Hearing aids – If someone with tinnitus also has a hearing loss, hearing aids can help by stopping the ears straining to hear, and picking up other sounds that may distract from the tinnitus. To take RNID’s telephone hearing check, call 0845 600 5555.
4. Get advice – visit RNID’s dedicated website at http://www.tuneouttinnitus.org.uk (external link) or call the charity’s Tinnitus Helpline on (telephone) 0808 808 6666 or (textphone) 0808 808 0007.