WHAT IS TINNITUS ?
Tinnitus is more common than you may think. It is estimated that something in the region of 10% of the population suffer from some measure of tinnitus with 1% finding it seriously troublesome to the extent that it affects their day to day lives. Tinnitus can take many forms from buzzing or ringing in the head or ears to sounding like voices or music. People who suffer with it hear noises that only they can hear – there is no actual noise. The noise can appear to vary in volume and frequency.
Tinnitus often accompanies a hearing loss (though not always) and it is thought that prolonged exposure to noise may exacerbate it in some people. It seems that different people suffer onset because of different reasons and similarly some people are lucky enough to report a solution that works for them which then turns out not to work for others.
The good news is that tinnitis only rarely signifies a more serious underlying pathology (it’s worth getting a medical opinion if the noises are unilateral (one sided) though) and those people that can learn to ignore it get on with their lives much as before it started.
At this time there is no cure for tinnitus so the options to help revolve around mitigating the effect rather than treating the cause. This can be achieved either by wearing a white noise generator (previously known as a tinnitus masker) which is a device which looks like a hearing aid. The theory is that if a complementary sound is introduced at the right frequency to mitigate the tinnitus one will cancel the other out. They work for some people. Wearing a hearing system works for some but I should stress that this is more a happy coincidence than a function of a hearing aid. Another strategy is via counseling to help you to effectively ignore it. This works extremely well on those prepared to make the effort but can take time.
THE CAUSE OF HEARING LOSS
The world has become a noisy place and never more so than since the industrial revolution. We do noisy jobs during the working day and pursue noisy hobbies in our leisure time. Noise has become a permanent fixture of modern life. In the last fifty years our average life span has been constantly improving and it is now thought that by 2050 people will routinely live to be one hundred years of age. This, of course, is good news but our hearing mechanism hasn’t yet caught up with such a big change in such a (relatively) short space of time. Our hearing capabilities have evolved to cope with a much less noisy and much shorter lifetime of listening!
Little wonder that current best estimates in the UK are that 8.5million people exhibit some degree of hearing impairment from a population somewhere around the 65 million mark. That’s a lot – about one in eight of the entire UK population according to Action on Hearing Loss – and a much higher proportion of , say, those over 70 years of age. There are, of course, other reasons apart from advancing years and noise that contribute to the onset of hearing loss including, but not limited to hereditary factors, underlying pathology, trauma to the head or ear and exposure to certain oto-toxic drugs to name a few. Notwithstanding this the fact is advancing years and noise exposure are significant contributory factors to hearing loss and while nothing can be done to halt the progress of time much can be done to minimise a person’s noise exposure.
Do You Have 10 Minutes To Take The Test ?
NHS VS. PRIVATE HEARING AIDS
If you have taken our online hearing test and your results show measurable hearing loss this means you are a suitable candidate for a hearing aid system. You are entitled to that help, free of charge at the point of issue, from the National Health Service (NHS).
The first step is to go to your GP and explain that you are having hearing difficulties and even take the results from our online hearing test with you. Your GP will then refer you for a more detailed hearing test with an audiologist who carries out tests on behalf of the NHS. If the hearing test confirms that you are a suitable candidate for a hearing aid and you think you would benefit from wearing something the audiologist will take the necessary steps to issue you with an appropriate hearing aid system.
The clear advantage is it is free at the point of issue. Hearing aids usually require some work from the wearer to adapt to the new sounds and not having to worry about the cost removes some of the pressure. By and large the technology employed in the aids is good and compared to even ten years ago represent a sea change to what used to be available. Ongoing care is provided, batteries are free and access to ancillary support services such as Hearing Therapy and Tinnitus Counselling can also be accessed through the NHS. They are a much preferable option to living with a hearing loss and doing nothing.
If you are unable or unwilling to spend any money on your hearing the NHS is the only choice since it is free at the point of delivery. If you are willing to spend some money and you will only be happy with the latest technology, quickest and most convenient service together with the most discreet design you will only get what you want if you go private.
If you’ve never had an aid before and don’t mind wearing something behind your ear try the NHS. If you are dead set against wearing something behind your ear you really need to go private
Do You Have 10 Minutes To Take The Test ?
HEARING AID FAQ’s
Do digital aids really cut out background noise?
The short answer to this question is no. Everybody involved in the development and fitting of hearing aids is working toward the goal of developing a hearing aid which replicates normal hearing for the hearing-impaired user. The fact is background sound is a part of our everyday listening experience – it adds atmosphere and colour to social gatherings and is valuable in detecting danger – you do need to know if there is a lorry coming at you from behind and in that situation a hearing aid which got rid of that sound would be a liability. What they do set out to do though is improve speech intelligibility in the presence of background sound. Early hearing aids caused wearers significant problems and occasional discomfort when trying to understand speech in background sound. Digital aids provided the first real opportunity to do something constructive about that problem and for some reason the myth grew that they “got rid” of background sound.
Are hearing aids any good with music?
The answer to this question is rather dependent on how good your natural hearing is and what your expectations are. Hearing aids have a tiny microphone, a tiny receiver and pick up all of the sound around them. It’s asking a lot to expect them to compete favourably with your expensive dedicated sound system. Generally, music is best listened to with your own ears, maybe with a set of headphones, and a bit of work to set the tone controls to best suit you. Some people report good results with hearing aids (auditory memory fills in the missing bits on familiar pieces and with new pieces you only know them as you’ve heard them with a hearing impairment).
Why do my hearing aids whistle?
As mentioned earlier in this report hearing aids hardly ever whistle because they are faulty. They will whistle as you put them in if you do so with the aid switched on, until the aid/ mould is firmly in place and either a good acoustic seal is formed, or in the case of open ear, RITE technology the tip is where it needs to be to enable the aids anti feedback systems to operate.If they continue to whistle then the sound is leaking. Check that the mould is in properly, if the aid is a BTE check the elbow is firm in the tube and the tube is firm in the mould and if that fails have someone look in your ear to check for wax.
If there is none and the aid still whistles then you should see whoever supplied the aid.
Are hearing aids reliable?
Hearing aids these days are not full of moving parts and the digital processors (chips) which drive them are very reliable. However, they do break down. ITE’s more so than BTE’s but both for the same basic reason which is that they live in a hostile environment. The weakest links are the microphone which has to be open to the elements to catch the sounds around it and the receiver which has to be exposed in your ear canal or, in the case of a BTE, be sited under the microphone on the side of the wearers head.
A sensibly worn regularly cleaned hearing aid is reliable. They tend not to be when sweated on, dropped, showered with, run through the washing machine, put in the microwave to dry, partially eaten by the dog, taken apart to see how they work, have the batteries put in the wrong way around, have the wrong batteries put in etc
How long does a hearing aid typically last?
An average lifespan will be five years. Over that time the technology will have got better and if it has served you well it will have done an enormous amount of work by then.
Are the free aids advertised in the papers any good?
No. Nothing is for nothing and these ads are little more than cynical methods of obtaining your name and address.
Will my hearing get worse quicker if I start wearing hearing aids?
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this will happen. Your physical ability to receive the signal will continue to diminish at the same rate whether you wear aids or not. What will happen is that once you start to wear hearing aids your interpretative skills will improve and the overall effect will be that you seem to be hearing better because you are getting more practice.
Our Hearing Test Is 100% Free.
MAKING HEARING LOSS BETTER
Our goal is for everyone in the UK to have better hearing which is why we have a completely free hearing test which you can take anytime and anywhere to determine if you have a hearing condition. This test will not fix tinnitus but you can atleast determine if you have another underlying hearing condition. You can also visit the Tinnitus Association. When you complete the test you will be given you results there and then so you know whether you should have a follow-up appointment with a local audiologist.