Tinnitus support groups: photo of a woman's ear

Tinnitus support groups training day

Fiona volunteers to coordinate the tinnitus support groups in Shrewsbury and Telford. She recently attended an interesting training day in London facilitated by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).

Fiona thoroughly enjoyed meeting people from tinnitus support groups from all around the UK – one lady from as far afield as Aberdeen. Here is her summary of the day…

Causes of tinnitus?

BTA Chief Executive David Stockdale chaired the day and was very informative. David advised that the peak age for people developing tinnitus is between 55 and 65 years. He added that tinnitus can be associated with many causes, for example, hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, stress and ear infections, although, for a percentage of people there is no apparent link to a specific cause. There are also co-morbidities, such as, anxiety, depression or hyperacusis. 

Subjective tinnitus (see the BTA’s website for definition of terms) should always be further investigated. Noise aggravated tinnitus was discussed, particularly, the need for people to wear adequate hearing protection and to limit exposure to loud noise, together with the importance of keeping well hydrated. Hearing protection should always be worn in environments where noise is in excess of 85 dB. However, it was also pointed out that people should not overprotect their ears!

National charity Action on Hearing Loss makes a Noise Exposure Factsheet available on its website. Here is a useful extract:

Tinnitus support groups: extract from Noise Exposure FactsheetDavid Stockdale went on to speak about apps that are available as downloads and can be used as decibel meters, which was new to me and sounded like a great idea.

Local support groups

Much of the rest of the day was spent on a counselling workshop, with particular reference to group work. This was very interesting and really made me think about the core reason for the existence of our local support groups and about what people hope to get out of attending the groups.

This is an area that I would really like to explore in future group meetings. It would be great if anyone reading this blog could reflect upon this and share their thoughts at a meeting or by email ( tinnitus@signal.org.uk ).

The last part of the training day was spent looking at the tinnitus experiencer’s journey, from making contact with their GP through to getting a referral to an audiology specialist (or not, as the case may be). We also looked at what help one might expect from a hearing therapist. It was surprising to learn the low percentage of people who actually do get referred. One of the course delegates commented, “No one cares about tinnitus until you get it!”

Information on all the points mentioned in this blog can be found on the BTA’s website. If you are not an internet user but would like further information, please do contact Signal and I will try to arrange for relevant factsheets to be printed off and sent to you.

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