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Tinnitus, what is it?

Tinnitus or “ringing in the ears”, is the awareness of a noise produced inside the body rather than from an external source. Tinnitus is common after exposure to a loud noise such as music in a night club, or following a cold or following a blow to the head, this is usually temporary. However, permanent damage can lead to permanent tinnitus. Tinnitus is often more obvious when you’re trying to sleep, or at quiet times due to lower background noise. Some tinnitus is permanent and   can lead to difficulty in sleeping, poor concentration and even depression.


What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can have many different causes, but most commonly results from the same conditions that cause hearing loss. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss, resulting from exposure to excessive or loud noises.

Tinnitus is a Growing Problem in the UK.Tinnitus, according to the British Tinnitus Association, seems to be a growing problem for people in the UK, due to an increase in exposure to levels of noise in both the work and leisure environment. Cutting down long term exposure to loud noise is essential in helping prevent the development of tinnitus – here’s six of the best tips on how you can keep ear damage at bay.

Preventing Tinnitus

Always wear ear plugs if you are exposed to high noise levels on a regular basis.  If you’re at work, then your company is obliged to provide suitable protection for your ears. If you’re out and about, invest in some cheap, effective foam ear plugs that will protect from high volumes without damaging the ear canal. Any of the following activities can expose your ears to a high and consistent noise levels, so protect them with ear plugs and reduce your chances of suffering from temporary or permanent tinnitus: 

Work activities

Musicians

Music Professionals

DJ’s

Sports such as Motor Racing

Shooting

Night clubs and concerts

Use of headsets for listening to music on Ipods,

PCs etc

Motor cycling

When in a noisy environment, try to take some time out. Constant exposure to high levels of noise is dangerous – and fatiguing – so take regular breaks from a noisy environment.

Try to take at least 10 minutes in every hour to go somewhere quiet and literally give your ears a ‘rest’. Going to concerts or clubs is enjoyable, but constant exposure can accumulate potential hearing damage over time.  One or two visits a week to a loud club or concert is an acceptable level of exposure, but nightly exposure to noise is more likely to lead to problems. Keep well hydrated.

The combination of dancing and hot enclosed spaces at clubs, pubs and parties (as well as exposure to the sun at outdoor summer festivals) means that people frequently become dehydrated. Along with several other health risks, dehydration has a detrimental effect on inner ear function - make sure you drink plenty of fluids.

Watch your alcohol consumption!  Too much alcohol in a noisy environment causes a specific fluid shift out of the inner ear which can increase damage. This also explains why people often feel quite dizzy if they have drunk too much - the same process affects the fluid in the semi-circular canals of the inner ear that control balance. 

Mild hearing damage can cause later complications.  As we age our hearing naturally deteriorates. This means mild or previously un-noticed hearing loss picked up when younger can appear sooner in later life than normal. A little care now might save years of nuisance and distraction in the future. 
Your ears need to last a lifetime - look after them and they will!

Useful Tinnitus Links

www.Tinnitus.org   (UK site, with more links) 

American Tinnitus Association 

Tinnitus Movie 

Changing the world for deaf and hard of hearing people. The RNID is the largest charity representing the 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK.

Tune Out Tinnitus 

Revealed: The drug that could end the misery of tinnitus - See Daily Mail article...

Puretone Tinnitus Treatment

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