Tinnitus Awareness Week is taking place from 1st – 7th February 2021. This Tinnitus Week the British Tinnitus Association are campaigning to make sure that everyone with tinnitus gets the right information, from the right place, at the right time.
The British Tinnitus Association are also asking people to get involved with their #ThisIsMySilence campaign which focusses on showing the real impact tinnitus can have on those who experience it. If you suffer from tinnitus, share a photo and your own words on social media to explain to others how it affects you.
Tinnitus is a hidden condition which people without tinnitus do not truly understand the huge impact it can have on someone’s life and their mental health.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease or illness but it is a symptom that is generated within the auditory system. It is a perception of noises which have no external source. The noise may be in one or both ears, in the head or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location. Tinnitus may be low, medium or high pitched and affects people differently. It can be described as a pulsating, ringing, buzzing or hissing sound.
What causes tinnitus?
Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus are still not understood but it can be associated with hearing loss, exposure to a loud noise, stress and anxiety or ear infections. Approximately 1 in 10 of the population suffer from tinnitus.
How to prevent tinnitus
Tinnitus cannot always be prevented but there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from tinnitus:
- If you are going to be exposed to loud sounds of over 85dB then make sure you wear earplugs.
- If you use earplugs or hearing aids, make sure you keep them clean.
- Don’t put things in your ear – not even cotton buds! These can cause infections which can lead to tinnitus.
- Try to keep a healthy balanced life and de-stress every day.
- If you are going to a club, gig or festival try not to stand by the speakers because the closer you are to the source of the sound, the louder it will be.
- When listening to music through headphones, make sure you set the volume to a safe level. This means that the volume of the music should not completely block out other external sounds.
- Take regular breaks. Your ears can cope better if you give them regular breaks when in a noisy environment.
How loud is too loud?
Sound is measured in decibels dB and above 85dB is the level which it becomes unsafe without the use of hearing protection. If you work in a noisy environment where the noise is 85dB and over, hearing protection should be provided.
To give you some understanding of how loud sounds are, below are some examples of the sound levels in dB and the maximum exposure times, after which, you should use hearing protection:
Industrial fire alarm
Hand held drill
Live rock band
Noise at work
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) came into force for all industry sectors on 6th April 2006 (except for the music and entertainment sectors where they came into force on 6th April 2008). The aim of the Noise Regulations is to ensure that workers’ hearing is protected from excessive noise at their work place, which could cause them to lose their hearing and/or to suffer from tinnitus.
Employers must provide hearing protection at 85dB and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information and training is 80dB. Taking into account any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, workers must not be exposed to more than 87dB of noise.
If you suspect that you have tinnitus it is recommended that you see your doctor who will be able to refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist for hearing tests. You may then be referred to the Audiology service for help in managing your tinnitus. Once your hearing is damaged then it cannot be fixed and so different techniques are used to manage tinnitus such as counselling, correcting any hearing loss with hearing aids etc., sound therapy and relaxation.
The British Tinnitus Association provide support and information to people with tinnitus (and their family, friends and carers). For more information and support about tinnitus you can telephone them on their helpline number of 0800 018 0527 or by emailing them at email@example.com.
If you have been diagnosed with tinnitus and/or hearing loss which has been caused as a direct result of your exposure to noise at work then contact us on 0161 696 6235 to find out if you are entitled to make a claim.