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UK Tinnitus Week: How much risk is there and how can it be tackled?

Thursday 8th February 2018
This week marks UK Tinnitus Week and healthcare professionals are being urged to increase awareness of the risks associated with the condition among their patients. Image: AndreyPopov via iStock
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UK Tinnitus Week is taking place from Monday February 5th until Sunday February 11th and, as part of the week, doctors are being called upon to raise awareness of the risks of tinnitus among their patients.

Statistics from the charity Action on Hearing Loss show that one in ten adults in Britain already suffer from the persistent ringing in the ears that is tinnitus, with many more at risk.

In particular, members of the younger generation, who have grown up listening to loud music through headphones, are likely to be at risk of suffering from tinnitus in the future, unless they listen to the advice of audiologists and take steps to safeguard their hearing now.

Indeed, previous research carried out by Action on Hearing Loss has shown that 53.4 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds have already experienced symptoms associated with tinnitus. What's more, 40 per cent are unaware that long-term exposure to loud music could potentially lead to permanent tinnitus.

Once the tiny hair cells in the inner ear have been damaged due to exposure to sounds of a high volume, there is often nothing that can be done, with tinnitus ending up affecting some sufferers' mental health too.

With this in mind, Action on Hearing Loss has published its advice on safe listening volumes this UK Tinnitus Week. It states that sounds measuring 85 decibels should only be listened to for eight hours in one stretch, with this time needing to halve for each three-decibel increase.

Just 15 minutes is the recommended time for listening to sounds of 110 to 120 decibels, which would be those found in a nightclub. The charity advises that discreet ear plugs are worn to bring this volume, and the associated risk of damage, down.

Meanwhile, Jackie White, director of Action on Hearing Loss in Northern Ireland, advised doctors: "We would encourage GPs to find out more about what can be done to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus and to give anyone presenting at their practice a positive message that something can be done to help.

"The knowledge that a person with tinnitus can take control of the noise and is not powerless can change the rest of their lives."

Written by James Puckle

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