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Tinnitus affecting more than 200,000 Kiwis

Tinnitus affecting more than 200,000 Kiwis

Tinnitus – or annoying noises in the head and ears – could be affecting more than 200,000 Kiwis, according to new research from the University of Auckland. If you’re one of them – find out how our hearing therapists can give you free support.

Tinnitus is the name given to noises in the head and ears that do not originate from an external sound. It may be experienced as ringing, whistling, clicking, buzzing, hissing or roaring.

The University of Auckland research is the first nationally representative study of tinnitus, and compiles information from interviews with 70,000 people over a period of six years.

Researcher, Dr Grant Searchfield, says, “Better understanding of the prevalence of tinnitus contributes to meeting health service needs and identifying high-risk groups in New Zealand.”

The study shows the highest prevalence of tinnitus occurs among males 65 years and older, with more than 14 percent reporting the condition. Men are slightly more likely to experience tinnitus overall, although the study shows young men aged 14-24 are at particular risk, and are 55 percent more likely to report the condition compared with women in the same age group.

Life Unlimited hearing therapy training co-ordinator, Diane-Joy Clough, believes understanding the prevalence of tinnitus is important because the effects of the condition can be extremely disruptive to everyday life.

“Tinnitus can affect concentration, or lessen enjoyment of listening or communicating with others,” says Diane-Joy. “Other effects may be anxiety, confusion, depression, distress, isolation, frustration, inability to sleep, and increased conflict and strain in relationships.”

There is no cure for tinnitus. Current treatment centres on reducing tinnitus perception or awareness, and what works for one person may not work so well for another.

If you think you have tinnitus, a Life Unlimited hearing therapist can provide information and support on an individual basis, and help you manage your tinnitus so as to lessen the effects of the condition on your day-to-day life.

Diane-Joy is optimistic about the role hearing therapists play in supporting people who experience the condition; “Many people, one they have an explanation for their tinnitus, find they can come to terms with tinnitus as being part of their ‘normal’ state, and the perceived loudness gradually decreases and ceases to be a problem for them.”

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