Cambridgeshire-based hearing care centre supporting Tinnitus Week
This week (February 5-11) is Tinnitus Week and numerous events are planned to highlight a condition affecting around one in 10 people in the UK.
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It can occur in one or both ears or in the head, and can be intermittent or constant.
Common descriptions of tinnitus include a buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, clicking, chirping, roaring or beeping noise. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss but can occur in people with normal hearing as well.
Sarah Carter, a director at Great Shelford-based angliEAR hearing care centre, told the Cambridge Independent:"Tinnitus Week is the first time that anything's been done worldwide, with different tinnitus groups around the world.
"So the British Tinnitus Association are involved, the American Tinnitus Association are involved, and what we're doing to support that as a clinic and as a corporate member of the British Tinnitus Association is raise awareness through our own programme of events."
This series of events kicked off on Monday (February 5) with audiologist and angliEAR owner Trevor Chapman being interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
"He spoke on the Jeremy Sallis Show to make people aware of Tinnitus Week,said Sarah,"what tinnitus is, how prevalent it is, and what people can do and the support that is available for them.
"We set ourselves a target to reach 100,000 people [for the week] and we think that show probably was about 25-30,000 people. Trevor also did an interview with Cambridge TV, which has actually gone on the Freeview channel as well.
For the rest of the week, angliEAR plans to focus on different areas related to tinnitus."On Tuesday we focused on children with tinnitus,explained Sarah.
"A lot of people think that it's only older people who get tinnitus, but research that suggests that one in 30 children have what is called 'clinically significant tinnitus'.
"And particularly with the listening to music that people do now through headphones and things like that, you only need to listen to your music on full volume for more than five minutes a day and you significantly increase your risk of hearing loss.
"It's just getting those kinds of facts out there... Tinnitus and hearing loss go hand-in-hand and that's just storing up problems for the future, really."
A live Facebook Q&A took place yesterday (Tuesday) with angliEAR audiologist Dr Stephanie Brushett and will be repeated on Friday.
Today (Wednesday) sees angliEAR focusing on GP appointments - to understand what your GP can do and what you can expect from the appointment - while tomorrow (Thursday), the onus is on helping friends, family and colleagues to understand what tinnitus is and what it feels like to have it.
"It's quite a packed programme,said Sarah,"but hopefully looking at tinnitus from different angles so that we are really raising that awareness to different audiences in different places."
Sarah notes that the condition does unfortunately lead some sufferers to commit suicide.
She concluded:"There isn't a cure for tinnitus but it's about managing the condition. It's about mindfulness, it's about masking the sound.
"If you can correct the hearing loss that might be underlying the tinnitus, what happens is you can reduce that perception of the noise that your brain is generating because you're basically plugging that bit of the brain back in."
For more on Tinnitus Week, visit tinnitus.org.uk.