We have a good variety of information leaflets on tinnitus and on approaches to managing it, and these are available without charge. You may also download copies of some of these leaflets here.
You can keep up to date on tinnitus matters nationally and internationally through the Irish Tinnitus Association’s quarterly newsletter Quiet Ireland, and also receive the British Tinnitus Association’s newsletter QUIET. To avail of these, you will need to become a member of the ITA.
Young people and Tinnitus
When a younger person develops tinnitus, it can be a frightening experience. Many of the fears around it will be similar to those of older people, but additional distress and anxiety can arise from the fear of having this annoyance for a lifetime ahead. Fortunately younger people tend to habituate to their tinnitus noise more readily than adults do, and get back to normal life and routines more quickly.
If the young person believes that listening to excessively loud music over time has been the cause of their tinnitus – and this is possibly the case for some – they may feel guilty and may blame themselves for their situation. This is of course, unhelpful, and in any case, noise exposure may not be the cause of the tinnitus. (In fact, no discernible cause is found for tinnitus in the great majority of people). Nevertheless, protection of hearing is essential for everyone and especially for the younger person, whether affected by tinnitus or not. There is useful information and advice for young people on the website of the British Tinnitus Association.
Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many people who become aware of their tinnitus noise are advised to visit an audiologist to have their hearing tested. A significant proportion of them will be told they have some mild or moderate hearing loss. Others will be told their hearing is normal for their age. No simple relationship has been established between hearing loss and tinnitus – some people with tinnitus have normal hearing; others don’t.
Some people have a hearing loss but have no tinnitus. Often, people believe that tinnitus has ‘caused’ their hearing loss, but it is likely the case that the hearing loss was there for some time before the tinnitus became noticeable, and was only brought to the person’s attention after a hearing test.
However, it will be of interest to those who have some hearing loss along with tinnitus that wearing a hearing aid sometimes has a quietening effect on their tinnitus. This is presumed to be a result of the external sound being enhanced. However, each person will need to have an assessment by a qualified audiologist to determine whether a hearing aid is necessary, what kind of aid will help the hearing, and whether it will help moderate the tinnitus, especially before making a very significant financial outlay on one or maybe two hearing aids.
Research into Tinnitus
It is a source of encouragement to those of us with tinnitus to know that a great deal of research into the condition is going on around the world. Most research is reported from the United States, from Britain and from European countries such as Germany and Sweden. Some of the research explores how tinnitus is actually generated; some looks at the effects of certain drugs on the noise.
Research also considers how people deal with the noises, and which factors make that coping easier or more difficult. There have been studies on how tinnitus affects people’s concentration, how families react to the tinnitus sufferer, and how the internet can be used to provide some forms of therapy.
However the overall aim of the research is to find a cure for tinnitus. The most hopeful line of research in that regard seeks a drug that will silence the noise. So far, no wonder drug has been found that will do that without having serious side-effects. Yet, clinical trials are reported from time to time in medical and scientific journals. New hope has also come with the development of stem-cell research, and new possibilities are emerging each year.
The more optimistic believe that an anti-tinnitus drug will be developed in five to seven years. Progress so far is slow, so that prediction may be optimistic. For those interested in the details of research into tinnitus, QUIET, the quarterly publication of the British Tinnitus Association, provides updates on recent research from around the world.