Contrary to what you may hear, tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom of a more significant medical problem. The ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing, and humming sounds that tinnitus patients experience is the product of an underlying problem. Unfortunately, many people choose not to seek medical treatment because there is no cure for tinnitus. However, a procedure that minimizes the symptoms of tinnitus can lead to a better life. If treating the symptoms of tinnitus makes a difference, why do so many people choose not to seek medical attention?
There is no scientifically proven cure for chronic tinnitus, but researchers are making progress. Currently, available tinnitus treatment options aim to lower the perceived burden of tinnitus to allow patients to live contented lives in spite of the disorder. The available treatment addresses the emotional and cognitive effects of tinnitus and does not repair underlying causes or eliminate the tinnitus signals to the brain. Some people view the currently available treatments as a waste of time because treatment is not a definitive cure. However, treatment can minimize the anxiety, stress, social isolation, and hearing difficulties that accompany tinnitus. So what are the blockades that prevent people from seeking care for the symptoms of tinnitus?
The Barriers To Tinnitus Care Study
A new study, published in November of 2018, identifies the significant barriers to tinnitus care. The research team believes that medical intervention for tinnitus can offer reassurance, suggest ways to manage tinnitus, and possibly reveal the underlying cause of tinnitus. Not seeking care can lead to an undiagnosed hearing problem which can be detrimental to the health of an individual.
The Reasons For Not Seeking Help
The study includes input from general practitioners, audiologists, ENT specialists, neurologists, psychologists, and alternative therapy practitioners. Based on the information from these health professionals, the researchers identify seven barriers that prevent patients from seeking care for tinnitus. The reasons include the following:
- Appropriateness of referrals
- Education and knowledge
- Health provider approach
- Assessment variations
- Lacking services
- Ineffective treatment
The research team is confident that additional studies which address help-seeking among tinnitus patients will improve patient care.
Coping With Tinnitus
A cure does not exist for tinnitus, but there are ways to deal with tinnitus. A visit with a healthcare professional is essential for identifying any underlying causes of tinnitus as well as learning strategies for coping with tinnitus. A few of these strategies include:
- Avoid anxiety and stress.
- Obtain adequate rest and avoid fatigue.
- Do not stimulate the nervous system with caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Sleep with your head in an elevated position.
- Consider using a hearing aid to amplify outside noise.
- Use ear protection when possible.
- Consider alternative therapies and counseling.
Tinnitus care is about addressing symptoms and finding ways to minimize their impact on the lives of numerous people. As more research regarding the barriers to tinnitus treatment becomes available, investigators believe it will encourage people to seek relief from the symptoms of tinnitus.