World Tinnitus Day

World Tinnitus Day 2015

By Chrissy Hughes on 17th April 2015

It’s a familiar scene – dancing until the national anthem sounds, chips in the taxi, ringing in the ears. It’s all harmless…or is it? Ringing in the ears is also known as tinnitus and for some people it’s a much more serious problem – they experience it on a chronic basis, all day, every day.

World Tinnitus Day takes place this Saturday, the 18th of April, and is the first global initiative to raise awareness of tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a phantom noise, it is the brain interpreting signals as sound, often in the absence of any noise at all.  It is most commonly a high pitched ringing, buzzing, or chirping sound but it can really be any kind of noise.

Tinnitus is a perceptive condition – you wouldn’t know that someone else had it unless they told you. This makes it particularly difficult for doctors to diagnose and for patients to describe to their family and friends.

Tinnitus affects over 300 million people worldwide, around 10% of the population have it to some degree, with 2% being affected in a debilitating way. There are a wide range of causes of tinnitus for example noise exposure, balance problems, tumours, and ear infections can all result in a person developing permanent tinnitus.

I got my tinnitus from playing the drums. Many hours spent happily banging away were, in fact, causing lasting damage to my hearing and created a constant ringing that I experience today. However, I was one of the lucky ones – my tinnitus is manageable and doesn’t majorly impact my life. Having sought information about the problem, and ultimately going on to work in the field, I now know how I could have prevented it ever happening. That’s information that can really help people, and I want it to be available to all.

Why is World Tinnitus Day needed?

Why do we need to raise awareness of tinnitus? Doesn’t everyone know about ringing in the ears? Well, when it comes to the chronic form of tinnitus, not really. The condition itself is still not well understood by the doctors diagnosing it and the patients who suffer from it. In a survey carried out by Restored Hearing, only 36% of tinnitus sufferers said their doctor was helpful enough; with many citing a lack of information or resources as the problem.

The status quo is for doctors to tell tinnitus sufferers to just get used to the noise, that there’s nothing that can be done. Currently there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are a range of therapies that work well in alleviating it so those suffering can get some relief. Raising awareness of tinnitus helps combat this ambivalent attitude among medical professionals and provides the public with reliable information about a condition that is not well understood.

World Tinnitus Day is also important as a preventative measure. In the case of noise damaged hearing, tinnitus can be prevented. It’s important people know how they can avoid future hearing problems. 50% of all hearing issues could have been prevented with some form of primary intervention, according to the World Health Organisation.

Things like wearing hearing protection and treating ear infections properly can all contribute to healthy hearing, avoiding damage and hearing problems in the long term.

What do we hope to achieve?

There are some great awareness weeks run in different regions like those organised by the British Tinnitus Association and the American Tinnitus Association, but the team behind World Tinnitus Day wanted to create something that brings the international tinnitus community together. World Tinnitus Day aims to engage a global cohort of organisations, healthcare professionals, tinnitus sufferers, and the general public in learning about and raising awareness of tinnitus.

We are hoping to have an interesting and informative discussion (both online and at events in Dublin) about tinnitus, the experiences of those with the condition, therapies, and prevention of hearing problems. We want to boost understanding among the general public of the condition to help those who suffer from it to be able to communicate better with their friends and family. I personally want to see a more open conversation around tinnitus and hearing health. They’re incredibly important issues in an age of ceaseless noise and it’s time people started paying attention to their ears.

How to get involved

Check out where you’ll find our shareable posters and information about the events taking place.

Tweet about World Tinnitus Day using the hashtag #WhatsTheBuzz

Attend our events in Dublin! See our schedule here:

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