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To mark national Tinnitus Awareness Week (6 – 12 February) charity Action on Hearing Loss has launched a guide to reveal common preconceptions about the condition which currently affects six million people in the UK.
Although there is not yet a cure for tinnitus, there are effective ways of managing the condition, with the new 'tinnitus myth-busting guide' highlighting the therapies and products that are available to help people effectively deal with it.
Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss chief executive, said: "An Action on Hearing Loss survey suggests that while a quarter of us know someone affected by the condition, 85 per cent of people are unaware of the help available for dealing with tinnitus.
"As a charity we have produced a myth-busting guide about the condition and we also have a dedicated Tinnitus Information Line which provides vital support to those affected and their families and we would like to encourage anyone affected not to suffer in silence, but reach out for support that is out there.
"For people that might need more support, I would urge them to make an appointment with their GP to be referred to NHS Audiology to help them manage their condition."
Tinnitus is a medical condition which is usually described as a ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring or humming sound in one or both ears where there is no external sound source.
It affects around one in every ten adults in the UK, increasing to nearly 17 per cent of 40 to 69-year-olds and 25-30 per cent of over 70s.
The condition can have a "detrimental effect" on a person's life, their relationships with family and friends and their ability to sleep or concentrate on daily activities.
The charity’s guide reveals the common preconceptions surrounding tinnitus. These include: 'it’s something you should put up with', 'distractions do not work', 'it is going to get worse' and 'others will not understand what you are going through'.
However, it is recommended that people with tinnitus should:
• Visit your GP who can make a referral to a hearing specialist
• Use therapies to 'train' your brain to 'tune out' tinnitus so you become less aware of it
• Use mindfulness, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling to help control your responses to stress
• Listen to soothing sounds to distract you from paying attention to your tinnitus, including stories and songs
• Make sure those close to you know what tinnitus is, how it affects you and what they can do to help
Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develops technology and treatments and campaigns for equality.
Mr Breckell added: "As a charity we are funding research to find a cure, which we hope will come within a generation, but while our scientists are working towards a breakthrough there are a wide range of treatments available from the NHS to help people to manage it, such as sound therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as well as other products that make it easier to deal with."
To view the 'tinnitus myth-busting guide', visit: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/TAW2017