The training video, funded by the Health & Social Care Board, highlights the importance of giving patients a positive message at diagnosis and signposting them to the relevant support available.
Action on Hearing Loss estimates that almost 9,500 people in Northern Ireland experience tinnitus to such a degree that it severely interrupts their daily lives, impacting on the person’s ability to sleep, work and socialise. 10-20% of the general population experience tinnitus less severely.
Research conducted by the charity found that people with tinnitus who sought help from their GP found that the advice and support they were given varied, and could be limited in its usefulness. However the research identified a demand from GPs for more training and information on how to support people distressed by the noise of tinnitus.
Dr Mary Donnelly, a GP with a special interest in ENT, and Chair of the Newry and Mourne Integrated Care Partnership, guided the development of the video. She said: “As a GP I feel that this video will be useful in the treatment of people with tinnitus. Knowing how to signpost patients appropriately is a way for GPs to take early action to address tinnitus and support patients through a difficult time.”
Claire Lavery, Northern Ireland Director of Action on Hearing Loss, said, “Tinnitus can be distressing for many people. However it is a manageable condition, which, if approached positively, can be brought under control over time. We hope that by equipping GPs with the tools they need to support people with tinnitus we can improve the outcomes for patients and ultimately save GPs time and money.”
Aoife McGlinchey, from Derry/Londonderry, developed tinnitus during her final year of University whilst studying music. She said:
“The first few months were a whirlwind. I couldn’t gig and I had to change my modules as I wasn’t able to do Performance. Tinnitus affected my concentration and my social life – I couldn’t go out with friends or if I did I’d have to wear earplugs to mask the background noise.
At the start my tinnitus was severe, but looking back now it’s definitely got better through management. My main way of managing my tinnitus over the last 18 months has been Neuroplasticity - learning how to rewire the brain through Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and getting used to sounds.”
The video will be rolled out to GPs over the next 12-18 months at local training events and online. It includes guidance from the British Tinnitus Association on the key components of a good GP consultation, and highlights the range of support services available for people with tinnitus, including Audiology and ENT services, social care and services delivered by Action on Hearing Loss and the British Tinnitus Association.
For more information about tinnitus contact Action on Hearing Loss at email@example.com or call 028 9023 9619.