Up to 2,000,000 in the UK could benefit
Hearing aids could well be the answer for millions of tinnitus sufferers, according to the results of a survey into the condition undertaken by national charity Deafness Research UK. The survey reveals that almost 40% of tinnitus sufferers surveyed could benefit from correctly prescribed and fitted hearing aids in both ears as a way to bring relief from a condition that can be anything from a constant low buzzing, to a tremendous noise that makes life for many a misery.
Worryingly, over 50% of respondents said they would not consider hearing aids, even if they relieved their symptoms – despite over 85% reporting their tinnitus as constant. The survey thus highlights the need for further educational work about the benefits of hearing aids to eradicate the stigma still associated with them. The survey was aimed predominately at the over 65 age group, who made up 70% of respondents. As above the age of 60, over half of people have an age related hearing loss, it might be expected that this age group would be more willing to wear a hearing aid but research has in fact shown that people wait around ten years before seeking help for hearing loss.
The survey has raised concerns that people are resistant to hearing aids because they recall the devices of the past. However, hearing aid technology has advanced tremendously in recent years. Modern devices are digital, discreet and unobtrusive and worlds away from the hearing aids people may remember. Deafness Research UK is urging anyone who has tinnitus and who may also have a hearing loss, to take action and to start by speaking to their GP who can refer them for a hearing test.
Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, said: The trouble is that when people think about hearing aids they imagine the old fashioned clunky NHS ones and as a result they put up with hearing problems for far too long before doing anything about it. However technology has moved on leaps and bounds and hearing aids today are much more discreet and effective than they were 20 years ago. We want to encourage people to act if they think they have a hearing problem because not only do hearing aids have a major impact on the quality of life but the sooner you start to use an aid the more benefit you get from it. If people want more information they should contact their GP or call the Deafness Research UK Information Service, free of charge, on 0808 808 2222.
The research was undertaken by Deafness Research UK, a national charity committed to helping those with deafness and related conditions, including approximately five million people in the UK affected by tinnitus. If 40% of the people in the survey could be helped by hearing aids, then the implication is that millions of other people in the UK with tinnitus could stand to benefit from considering hearing aids as a potential way to relieve their symptoms.
Deafness Research UK has published a new, free leaflet called Managing Tinnitus, offering advice and guidance for tinnitus sufferers, based on the latest scientific research. For a copy of the leaflet call 0808 808 222, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.deafnessresearch.org.uk
Selected survey results (full results available on request)
1553 tinnitus sufferers completed the survey
Most of the respondents that answered this questionnaire do not have hearing aids (56%). Of those respondents that have hearing aids, most (67%) were prescribed their hearing aids for hearing loss, 26% were prescribed their hearing aids for hearing loss and tinnitus, and only 7% of hearing aid users were prescribed their hearing aids for tinnitus.
Of those that wear hearing aids in one ear only, 22% said that their hearing aid reduced their tinnitus symptoms, 75% said that wearing a hearing aid in one ear made no difference to their tinnitus and only 3% said that their hearing aid worsened their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus symptoms were reduced in 39% of respondents that wear hearing aids in both ears, however two hearing aids made no difference in of 57% of cases, and worsened the symptoms for 4%.
Of those who do not currently wear hearing aids, 46% said that they would consider wearing a hearing aid to help their tinnitus.
Notes to editors
About Deafness Research UK
Deafness Research UK is the countrys only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people.
The charity supports high quality medical research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of hearing impairment including tinnitus.
Deafness Research UK is entirely dependent on voluntary donations, gifts and personal legacies. You can donate online at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk , or call 0207 7833 1733 for further information on how to support the charity.
The Deafness Research UK Information Service provides free information and advice based on the latest scientific evidence and informed by leading experts. The Information Service can be contacted on Freephone 0808 808 2222.
For more information on research into deafness, tinnitus and other hearing conditions, log on to the website at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk where you can access a wide range of information. Alternatively you can e-mail Deafness Research UK at email@example.com
One in seven people in the UK almost nine million people – suffer hearing loss.
Deafness Research UK was founded in 1985 by Lord (Jack) and Lady Ashley of Stoke.
In January 2008, Action for Tinnitus Research (ATR) was linked with Deafness Research UK under a uniting direction order under section 96(6) of the Charities Act 1993.
Press enquiries: Jon Gardner, BeyondPR. Mobile 07930 697773. Direct line 0114 275 6996.
Ref: DR-UK0204 Tinnitus Research