Tinnitus refers to the hearing of sound when there is no external sound present. It is the perception of the individual where ringing in the ears occurs. Although classically referred to as ringing, it can be any clicking, roaring, whistling, hissing sound with volume that may fluctuate. The most common is a steady and high pitch ringing that can be annoying. It affects as many as 50 million Americans. While it commonly affects individuals over the age of 50, it can also be present among children and adolescents. There are many causes of tinnitus and the commonest includes:
- Loud noises (concerts, clubs, excessive volume when using headphones)
- Head and neck injuries (whiplash in car accidents, sports injury, etcetera)
- Ear infections (otitis media and more)
- Medications (aspirin in large doses, vancomycin, furosemide, and any medication that is ototoxic)
Some people also experience insomnia, poor concentration, affected daily routines especially in work or school, anxiety, irritability, and depression due to tinnitus. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are many ways that you can manage it.
Top 3 Support Websites For Tinnitus
The internet has many websites that offer support and guidance to people who have many different of diseases. Tinnitus is no exception. The following are the top websites that offer support and guidance for those who have tinnitus.
American Tinnitus Association
The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) website offers a support network where patients can provide support to one another through the sharing of their individual experiences. The website enables new patients to locate a local support group which they can attend to help them understand and learn how other individuals who are afflicted by tinnitus manage and cope with their symptoms. Although the ATA does not have their own support groups, they play a significant role in helping independent groups by providing them with access to the resources and connections that they require.
There are also support groups that have a forum, so patients can meet in person. Groups meet according to their own schedule and group leaders are encouraged to post updates and events to the news and events page. The group meetings usually involve an educational component such as having presentations from local health professionals. If there are no local support groups and you are thinking about starting one, the ATA also has a manual that helps you start your very own Tinnitus Support Group.
Besides support, the ATA website also has the Help Network Listing which is a list of tinnitus patients who are willing to help by volunteering their time to guide and support others with the same condition through the phone, email, or other means of communication. These volunteers play a crucial role through their support, compassion, experience, and ability to find resources for the management of tinnitus. There is also information regarding volunteering opportunities, patient stories, and educational resources on the website.
British Tinnitus Association
The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) website is also a very helpful site that provides information not only for patients but for primary care physicians as well. They provide information sheets regarding other conditions that may be related to tinnitus, self-help, coping strategies, how to help and support a friend or loved one with tinnitus.
They also have a section on how to help children understand and manage their symptom of tinnitus. This is crucial as it was found that 37% of children 6-12 years of age with normal hearing experience tinnitus with numbers increasing to 59% in those with hearing loss. Children with tinnitus are often at a disadvantage due to the lack of information and support. Many become isolated as they often feel scared and confused hearing noises that no one else can hear. If you have a child who suffers from tinnitus, take advantage of the website’s online activity books and information leaflets specially designed for children with three age ranges, under 8 years old, 8-11 years old, and 11-16 years old. These books have attractive and engaging illustrations and aims to help the child develop a personal strategy or coping mechanism for tinnitus. There is also a parent’s guide and teacher’s guide to helping the affected child.
They also have a helpline that provides information about tinnitus, empathy and hope to those who need it. The BTA website also has information regarding support groups. If you are interested in products that can help your tinnitus, the BTA website also sells sound therapy systems, pillow speakers, sleep headphones, headphones for safe listening, ear defenders, CDs, and DVDs. By purchasing their products, the profit gained helps support their work to help individuals who suffer from tinnitus.
The Hearing Link is a website that is not limited to tinnitus. It contains information about tinnitus, possible causes, hearing loss, hearing aids, and more. They aim to help patients adjust to the challenges that hearing issues such as tinnitus can cause by sharing experiences, providing practical support, and connecting you to people to help you face your daily routines with more confidence. They also have a help desk where their response team are ready to offer information, guidance and support through email, phone, or even text. If you are located in the United Kingdom (UK), they can also put you in contact with one of their community support volunteers that are available to provide personal and practical advice through visits, letters, and emails. The Hearing Link website also offers services such as self-management programs and intensive rehabilitation programs. If you feel like getting involved, they have an online community, volunteering opportunities, and fundraising events. Lastly, the website also features a shop that sells products that helps support their cause.
Conclusion About Websites Offering Support For Tinnitus
There are many websites available that can offer information for tinnitus. Look for support groups that are available locally and if none are available, there are other options such as joining an online community or talking to volunteers through text, phone calls, or email. Remember that these options should not substitute a visit to your doctor!