Nearly one in two people across the UK (43%) have experienced tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound in the head or ears, according to a new poll by charity Action on Hearing Loss.
The poll was published to mark Tinnitus Awareness Week (8 – 14 February). The number rises to over half (53.4%) for those aged 18 to 24 years old in the UK.
The condition that permanently affects 6 million people in the UK can have a detrimental effect on a person's life, their relationships with family and friends and their ability to sleep, concentrate and work.
A third of people (34%) surveyed said that they are exposed to loud noise every day with over a quarter (27%) of respondents having experienced ringing in their ears or dulled hearing after work. At the same time a worrying 40% of people didn’t know that being exposed to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus.
Over two thirds (70%) of respondents were not aware of a link between tinnitus and hearing loss.
Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive, explained: ‘The new figures announced by the charity today demonstrate how widespread tinnitus is and highlight the fact that many of us are not aware of the potential implications of this condition.
‘Being exposed to loud noise for a long time, whether through listening to loud music or working in a noisy environment can trigger tinnitus and is an indication of damaged hearing. Almost half of us either experienced tinnitus in the past or already living with the condition, but worryingly 85% of people are unaware or unsure of the help available.
‘It’s imperative that tinnitus sufferers are referred to NHS Audiology by their GP’s to help them manage their condition. We as a charity run a free Tinnitus Information Line which provides vital support to those affected and their families and we would like to encourage anyone affected not to suffer in silence, but reach out for support that is out there.’
There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but there are effective ways of managing it and Action on Hearing Loss offers information and a selection of products that can help those living with the condition. Action on Hearing Loss also runs the largest donor-funded deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss research programme in the world, funding cutting-edge research to find treatments - which could be as close as five years away - to help silence the condition.