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1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland suffer from tinnitus

1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland suffer from tinnitus – a ringing, buzzing, humming or whistling sound in the ear.


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Around 9,000 are affected by the condition so badly that many have said that it made their life unbearable and had significant impact on their mental health.

Statistics suggest that at least 178,900 people in Northern Ireland have tinnitus of varying severity.

Tinnitus is often described as ‘ringing in the ears’, but several types of sound can be heard including buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing, whistling and sizzling. Sometimes the noise associated with tinnitus can beat in time with the pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus.

For many, tinnitus is a condition that they learn to live with but for others, it can have a significant impact on day-to-day life including concentration problems, sleep problems and depression.

Tinnitus can improve over time and although there is currently no single treatment that works in the same way for everyone, if an underlying cause can be established it can often be effectively treated.

Lindsay Gillespie, Audiologist at Optique Eye and Ear Care – part of the 3fivetwo Group located on the Lisburn Road, Belfast said.  “At Optique Eye and Ear Care we firstly recommend you visit your GP, or visit a GP at our private GP service who can refer you to an ENT specialist if you are having problems. At Optique we can provide ear wax management which can sometimes be the cause of tinnitus and also offer hearing aids which are known to reduce the condition in suitable people. A GP or ENT specialist at Kingsbridge Private Hospital may advise you see us after you have been discharged and the cause is unknown.”


What causes tinnitus?


Tinnitus can be caused by a build-up of earwax, a middle ear infection or a problem with your inner ear (such as Ménière's disease) can sometimes be responsible for the sounds associated with tinnitus. 

It is important that you establish what triggers your tinnitus, whether there are particular times of the day when it's more noticeable, and whether there's anything that makes it better or worse. 

Some people find their tinnitus is worse when they're stressed or anxious and improves when they're calm and relaxed. Learning this can in some cases help you to control it better. 

Occasionally, temporary tinnitus can be the result of a blow to the head or a sudden, loud noise, such as an explosion or gunfire.


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Diagnosing tinnitus


Optique Eye and Ear Care offer a speedy service to help improve the quality of hearing with audiology tests and access to the latest hearing aids on the market.

It is recommended that you contact the 3fivetwo Group to book an appointment if you're continually hearing sounds such as buzzing, ringing or humming, or if you have regular episodes of hearing these sounds. 

Our ENT specialists will carry out tests to help rule out possible underlying causes. They'll also look at your medical history and ask about the type and severity of the noises you hear.


Treating tinnitus


At the moment there's no single treatment for tinnitus that works in the same way for everyone. However, research to find an effective treatment is continuing and at the 3fivetwo Group you can rest assured that you will have access to the latest treatments for the condition. 

If an underlying cause of your tinnitus can be found at your appointment, effectively treating it may help improve the condition. For example, if a build-up of earwax is responsible, eardrops or ear irrigation (using a pressurised flow of water to remove the earwax) may be recommended. 

If a specific cause can't be established, the focus will be on helping you manage the condition on a daily basis.


Coping with tinnitus 


Tinnitus is most noticeable in quiet environments, background noise such as music or the television can help distract you from the sound of tinnitus. Low level amplification provided by specially programmed hearing aids has been shown to alleviate tinnitus for may sufferers. 

Listening to natural relaxing sounds, such as the sound of rain or the ocean, can also help. Environmental sound generators are small, electronic devices that produce these types of soothing sounds. 

Our specialists will be able to advice you of all available methods. 


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Click here to visit Action On Hearing Loss


To visit a GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, please call us on 0845 60 06 352 or email us at


To book an appointment at Optique Eye and Ear Care please call us on 028 9066 7030 or email us at  


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Posted on 06 Feb 2014