Living with tinnitus

Living with tinnitus has been produced to give an overview of what tinnitus is, the management techniques that can be used to conquer it, and the resources that the BTA have to offer.

Living with tinnitus has been produced to give an overview of what tinnitus is, the management techniques that can be used to conquer it, and the resources that the BTA have to offer.


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LIVING<br />

WITH<br />


Freephone helpline: 0800 018 0527<br />

Text/SMS: 07537 416841<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />


WHAT IS<br />


Tinnitus is the perception of noises in the head and/or<br />

the ears which have no external source. It is not a<br />

disease or illness; it is a symptom generated <strong>with</strong>in the<br />

auditory system. The noise may be in one or both ears,<br />

or in the head, or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact<br />

location. The noise may be low, medium or high pitched.<br />

There may be a single noise or<br />

two or more components.<br />

The noise may be continuous<br />

or it may come and go.<br />

Who gets <strong>tinnitus</strong>?<br />

Experiences of <strong>tinnitus</strong> are<br />

very common in all age groups,<br />

especially following exposure<br />

to loud noise.<br />

About 1 in 8 of adults<br />

in the UK have<br />

permanent <strong>tinnitus</strong>.

What causes <strong>tinnitus</strong>?<br />

The causes of <strong>tinnitus</strong> are still not<br />

fully understood, but <strong>tinnitus</strong> can<br />

be associated <strong>with</strong>:<br />

Hearing loss<br />

The delicate hair cells in the inner<br />

ear may reduce in number due<br />

to ‘wear and tear’ as people age.<br />

This gradual change can cause<br />

hearing loss, which makes<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> more noticeable as it is<br />

not masked by external sound.<br />

Exposure to loud noise<br />

Hair cells can also be damaged<br />

by exposure to loud noise,<br />

which could generate <strong>tinnitus</strong>.<br />

Stress and anxiety<br />

It is not always clear whether<br />

stress causes the onset of<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>. However, <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

may be more noticeable if<br />

you are anxious or stressed.<br />

Ear infections<br />

Middle ear infections can<br />

cause hearing loss and <strong>tinnitus</strong>.<br />

Symptoms will normally be<br />

temporary, but it is important<br />

to have the underlying infection<br />

treated by a GP.

Treatment options<br />

Tinnitus is rarely an indication<br />

of a serious disorder, but it is<br />

wise to see your doctor if you<br />

think you have it. Your GP will<br />

be able to refer you to specialist<br />

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and<br />

Audiology services.<br />

An ENT specialist will take<br />

a medical history from you,<br />

perform a clinical examination<br />

and arrange for any tests, such<br />

as hearing tests. You should<br />

then be referred to the Audiology<br />

service for help in managing<br />

your <strong>tinnitus</strong>. There are several<br />

strategies that can be very<br />

helpful in managing the condition.<br />

Information<br />

Finding out more about the<br />

condition - especially that it<br />

is very common and that you<br />

are not alone - can make you<br />

feel better.<br />

Counselling<br />

Techniques such as Cognitive<br />

Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can<br />

be helpful, either as a standalone<br />

therapy or combined <strong>with</strong><br />

sound therapy.<br />

Correcting any hearing loss<br />

If your <strong>tinnitus</strong> is accompanied<br />

by any hearing loss, then trying<br />

to correct this loss <strong>with</strong> hearing<br />

aids is often very helpful.<br />

Sound therapy<br />

If the noises seem louder at quiet<br />

times, such as at night, it may<br />

help to have some environmental<br />

or natural sound from an app, a<br />

CD, a sound generator, or even a<br />

fan or ticking clock in the<br />

background. Some people use<br />

in-ear sound generators.<br />

Relaxation<br />

Learning to relax is probably one<br />

of the most useful things you can<br />

do to help yourself. Those who<br />

practice relaxation techniques<br />

say they reduce the loudness<br />

of their <strong>tinnitus</strong> and help them<br />

become indifferent to it.<br />

Mindfulness<br />

Mindfulness is a form of<br />

meditation that is all about<br />

learning to pay attention to our<br />

experience in a specific way.<br />

It has been proven to make<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> less intrusive, to a point<br />

where it is no longer a problem<br />

for people.

HOW CAN<br />

WE HELP?<br />

Our vision is a world where no<br />

one suffers from <strong>tinnitus</strong>. That<br />

is a powerful statement and one<br />

we believe is achievable. It is<br />

achievable now to an extent, in<br />

that there are management tools<br />

and methods available to enable<br />

some not to ‘suffer’. However, we<br />

also want to find better ways to<br />

manage <strong>tinnitus</strong> – and a cure.<br />

We offer support and information<br />

to people <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong> (and their<br />

friends, family and carers) in<br />

a number of different ways:<br />

Freephone helpline<br />

Web chat<br />

Email support<br />

SMS chat<br />

Website<br />

Information leaflets<br />

Take on Tinnitus<br />

Tinnitus support groups<br />

Online forum<br />

Tinnitus information events<br />

Products for <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

Read on to find the right<br />

ones for you!

Our Tinnitus Support Team<br />

Last year, we spoke to almost<br />

13,000 people, either on the phone,<br />

via web chat or by email, to offer<br />

them support, advice and help.<br />

Our Tinnitus Support Team can<br />

give you clear information about<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>, signpost you to local<br />

support services, offer you<br />

empathy, understanding and hope.<br />

Call: 0800 018 0527<br />

Webchat: <strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />

SMS: 07537 416841<br />

Email: helpline@<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm<br />

(excluding bank holidays)<br />

“I just wanted to say thank you to<br />

the ladies and gentlemen at the<br />

BTA helpline for their kindness<br />

and support over the last weeks.<br />

You gave me your time and<br />

listened while I was in a very<br />

distressed state.”<br />

Our team of friendly advisers<br />

have many years of experience<br />

in talking to people <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong>,<br />

and you can speak in confidence.<br />

No question is too large or too<br />

small for us to answer!<br />

Please note although we have<br />

in-depth knowledge of <strong>tinnitus</strong>,<br />

we are not medically qualified,<br />

so we are not able to give<br />

medical advice.

Our website<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />

Our website is visited by over 1.1<br />

million people every year. Possibly<br />

the most comprehensive single<br />

source of <strong>tinnitus</strong> information on<br />

the Internet, we have sections to<br />

help you understand more about<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> and how to manage it, as<br />

well as updates on the latest<br />

research news, an interactive<br />

support groups directory,<br />

details of our events and<br />

campaigns, and an online shop<br />

<strong>with</strong> products to help you.<br />

Our website is designed to work<br />

easily on all types of devices,<br />

including smartphones and tablets,<br />

so up-to-date, reliable <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

information can always be<br />

at your fingertips.<br />

i<br />

Our information<br />

leaflets<br />

We have an extensive range<br />

of leaflets on aspects of <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

and related conditions, including<br />

leaflets for children. Our helpline<br />

can give you details of the range,<br />

or they can be downloaded from<br />

our website <strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk.<br />

We offer them all in large print,<br />

and some are available in audio<br />

format. Four of our leaflets are<br />

in Easy Read format <strong>with</strong> simple<br />

text and illustrations.<br />

Our leaflets are written by experts<br />

and are rigorously checked and<br />

assessed to make sure that our<br />

information is clear, accurate and<br />

up to date.

Take on Tinnitus<br />

takeon<strong>tinnitus</strong>.co.uk is our free<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> e-learning programme. It<br />

will guide you through some facts<br />

about <strong>tinnitus</strong> and help you <strong>with</strong><br />

some simple strategies to keep it<br />

under control.<br />

Developed <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong> experts<br />

and e-learning specialists,<br />

takeon<strong>tinnitus</strong>.co.uk starts<br />

<strong>with</strong> an initial taster session<br />

and then has seven learning<br />

modules covering:<br />

• The fundamentals of <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

• Hearing and <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

• Benefits of using sound<br />

• Tinnitus and relaxation<br />

• Sleep and <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

• The benefits of talking about it<br />

• <strong>Living</strong> your life <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

Each module takes just 10-15<br />

minutes to complete and includes<br />

a range of interactive exercises,<br />

video clips and self-tests.<br />

“I really love the Take on<br />

Tinnitus website, it’s a<br />

brilliant resource”<br />

takeon<strong>tinnitus</strong>.co.uk<br />

Products<br />

for <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

We have carefully selected a small<br />

range of products suitable for<br />

people <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong> to help you<br />

manage your condition or to<br />

protect your hearing. These include<br />

sound therapy systems, pillow<br />

speakers, ear plugs and<br />

headphones for safe listening. We<br />

are constantly working closely<br />

<strong>with</strong> partners to bring you these at<br />

specially negotiated prices.<br />

You can find out more at<br />


Support<br />

Our online forum<br />

Our online forum is available 24<br />

hours a day, seven days a week to<br />

give you the chance to talk to<br />

other people <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong>.<br />

Forum members understand what<br />

you are going through, and can<br />

help support you through the bad<br />

times – and will celebrate <strong>with</strong> you<br />

on the good days!<br />

healthunlocked.com/bta<br />

“Knowing that I am not alone and<br />

have the support of people I have<br />

never met but who care!”<br />

Support groups<br />

We have around 115 active<br />

support groups around the<br />

country. We also offer free online<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> support groups.<br />

To find one for you, visit our<br />

website <strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk/groups<br />

Tinnitus information events<br />

Our <strong>tinnitus</strong> information events<br />

aim to reduce stress, confusion<br />

and isolation; improve wellbeing;<br />

and enable you to cope <strong>with</strong> your<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> better.<br />

We offer events in different<br />

formats, including workshops and<br />

webinars. They are led by <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

experts and will cover topics such<br />

as <strong>tinnitus</strong> management,<br />

mindfulness and getting the<br />

best from an appointment.<br />

For details of upcoming events,<br />

see <strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />

“I got so much more from<br />

today than from any other<br />

medical professional”<br />

Groups are attended by people<br />

who are living <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong>,<br />

and many people find that the<br />

personal contact and sharing<br />

experiences are very useful.

HOW WE<br />


Did you know?<br />

The British Tinnitus Association<br />

is the only national UK charity<br />

solely dedicated to supporting<br />

people <strong>with</strong> <strong>tinnitus</strong>.<br />

We are an independent charity<br />

supporting thousands of people<br />

who experience <strong>tinnitus</strong> and<br />

advise medical professionals<br />

from across the world. We are<br />

the primary source of support<br />

and information for people <strong>with</strong><br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> in the UK, facilitating an<br />

improved quality of life. We aim<br />

to encourage prevention through<br />

our educational programme and<br />

to seek effective treatment for<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> through a medical<br />

research programme.<br />

As we receive no direct<br />

government or NHS funding,<br />

the support we provide can only<br />

be offered <strong>with</strong> the help of our<br />

generous donors and supporters.<br />

Cost of services<br />

100% of our work relies on<br />

voluntary income. We need to<br />

raise almost £1 million every year<br />

to provide our crucial services<br />

to people affected by <strong>tinnitus</strong>.<br />

£15 can give someone the<br />

emotional and practical support<br />

they need via our confidential<br />

freephone helpline<br />

£25 could provide 200 leaflets<br />

to help <strong>tinnitus</strong> patients<br />

£49 could pay for the training of<br />

a <strong>tinnitus</strong> support group organiser<br />

For more information about how<br />

we are funded please call us on<br />

0114 250 9933, email us at<br />

info@<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk or visit<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk<br />

Donation figures correct at time of going to press.


Our members are at the heart<br />

of our work<br />

By becoming a member you’ll join a<br />

growing group of people who play a<br />

part in everything we do – and who<br />

are determined to make sure that<br />

no-one faces <strong>tinnitus</strong> alone.<br />

Membership means you become part<br />

of a mutually supportive community,<br />

as well as being the first to find out<br />

about the latest <strong>tinnitus</strong> research.<br />

You’ll also receive some great<br />

membership benefits.<br />

Members receive<br />

• Our exclusive membership<br />

magazine, Quiet<br />

• Our monthly e-newsletter, Focus<br />

• A free gift to help focus the mind<br />

(for new members)<br />

• Free sound therapy noise CDs -<br />

a choice of white noise, brown<br />

noise, pink noise or purple noise<br />

• Discount on products for <strong>tinnitus</strong><br />

• The chance to have your say and<br />

to vote for our trustees<br />

Individual membership is £20 a year<br />

For more information about our<br />

membership scheme please call us<br />

on 0114 250 9933, email us at<br />

info@<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk or visit<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong>.org.uk/membership<br />

Become<br />

a member

IT<br />

DOES<br />

GET<br />

BETTER.<br />

Studies have shown that, over time, in most cases<br />

<strong>tinnitus</strong> disappears completely or the noises reduce to a<br />

manageable level as the brain loses interest and stops<br />

listening for the signal. The time this takes varies from<br />

person to person – but it does happen!<br />

This leaflet is for information purposes only and is not a<br />

substitute for medical advice – you should always see<br />

your doctor and/or medical professional.<br />

© British Tinnitus Association.<br />


Version 4.2 Issued May 2022. To be reviewed by May 2025.<br />

The British Tinnitus Association. Registered charity no: 1011145<br />

Registered in England.

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