The Tinnitus Service at the Manchester Royal Infirmary provides
information, counselling and advice about tinnitus and the
strategies available that can be used to manage tinnitus to make it
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often known as 'ringing in the ears', but it can
take the form of many different sounds. It can be defined as a
perception of sound when there is no external sound source.
Tinnitus is more common than you might think, about 10% of adults
in the UK experience tinnitus. Many people with tinnitus are not
affected by it, but for others it can have a profound effect.
What is causing my tinnitus?
There are many different causes of tinnitus. It can be linked to
exposure to loud noise, hearing loss, injuries to the ear or head,
some diseases of the ear, some illnesses or emotional stress.
However, many people may experience tinnitus without ever having
experienced any of these provoking factors, and may not have a
What do tinnitus appointments typically
Your first tinnitus appointment will often involve a member of
the Audiology tinnitus team finding out more about the nature of
your tinnitus and explore the feelings and difficulties it may be
causing. Once the Audiologist or Hearing Therapist knows more about
your tinnitus they will go on to discuss the results of your
hearing test and the mechanism of hearing and an explanation of the
model of tinnitus. The Audiologist or Hearing Therapist will also
provide information and advice about the different strategies
available to help manage it.
What help is available for tinnitus?
There is no medication that can be taken to cure tinnitus, but
there are several things that can be done to help to manage
Knowing more about tinnitus and how the brain responds to the
sound is an important stage in learning to manage tinnitus. In many
cases when a person first hears tinnitus it can be quite alarming
because it is an unknown sound and is strange and different to what
is perceived as normal. It is often very reassuring to speak to
someone who knows and understands about tinnitus. This can often be
the first step in managing tinnitus.
- Sound enrichment
There are many forms of sound enrichment that can be used to help
with tinnitus. Initially people often start to use radios, stereos
and TVs to introduce sound into the environment to drown out the
tinnitus. This can be helpful to start off with but the clinician
will be able to provide information and advice about different
sound enrichment devices that can be used. These devices introduce
more passive background sound into the environment that can help
the brain to learn to filter out the tinnitus.
Relaxation is an important component as some people find that it
lowers their perception of the tinnitus. In the modern world we
often lead busy and stressful lives and it can be difficult to make
time for relaxation. Even when we do relax the forms of relaxation
we choose often involve some active process that doesn't enable us
to reduce our levels of anxiety or stress.
With tinnitus it is important to learn how to control your
responses to stress. A member of the Audiology tinnitus team will
be able to provide guidance on more structured forms of relaxation
that can be effective in reducing stress and tension, so that a
person with tinnitus can set up their own regular relaxation
routine. For further assistance in using relaxation techniques, the
Tinnitus Service at the Manchester Royal Infirmary also offers
relaxation classes throughout the year for people with tinnitus.
Please speak to a member of the team if you would like to be placed
on the waiting list for the next course of relaxation classes.
If I have a hearing loss, will wearing hearing aids help
If a person with tinnitus has a hearing loss then hearing aids
can be helpful.
Firstly hearing aids will make sounds, like speech, more audible
and this will help to reduce the level of difficulty a hearing loss
gives when listening to sounds around you. Hearing aids are also
likely to reduce some of the anxiety or stress caused by tinnitus
and hearing loss when it comes to communicating with other
Secondly, tinnitus is often more noticeable in quiet
environments and, with a hearing loss, environments are likely to
seem quieter as less sound is being heard. Hearing aids will help
by allowing you to hear more environmental sounds, so that more
information is available to the brain which makes it easier for the
brain to ignore the tinnitus.
If I have tinnitus in one ear, will it start in the other
ear as well?
If you have tinnitus in only one ear this will need to be
investigated by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to determine what
might be causing the tinnitus. In most cases just because you have
tinnitus in one ear does not mean you will also eventually get it
in the other ear.
Hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to sound and it can be
more common in people with tinnitus. People with hyperacusis can
feel that sound in general or certain sounds are uncomfortably or
painfully loud, even when they are not particularly intense and
might not bother other people.
For people with hyperacusis the temptation can be to use ear
plugs to block out these sounds, but this can actually make the
situation worse. It is important for people with hyperacusis to be
gradually de-sensitised to the sounds they find uncomfortable. An
Audiologist or Hearing Therapist can provide information and
guidance on this process so that a person with hyperacusis can
gradually be exposed to a variety of sounds.
Action on Hearing Loss Tinnitus Helpline
Tel: 0808 808 6666
Text: 0808 808 0007
SMS: 0780 000
Fax: 020 7296
British Tinnitus Association (BTA)
The BTA is a charity providing support and advice about
BTA Tinnitus Helpline (Freephone) -
Tel: 0800 018 0527
Manchester Deaf Centre -
Tinnitus Support Group
Tel: (0161) 273