According to a survey carried out by Tinnitus Hub, 64% of tinnitus patients reported that the condition had caused them mental health issues, with stress, anxiety and depression being the most prevalent.
On this theme, a large number of my contacts emphasised the importance of having the hope of a future cure.
Of course, whilst a cure does not currently exist, acceptance of the condition is key in moving forward and it is important for those affected to find a way of managing their symptoms to improve their quality of life. Yet, the reassurance that researchers are working to find a cure, can give those affected a level of mental comfort.
More awareness of the interrelation between tinnitus and mental health issues could have a positive effect on fundraising efforts and more researchers may be likely to embrace the challenge of finding a cure.
Speaking as a voice for musicians and DJs, Anne Savage highlighted the importance of promoting tinnitus prevention measures. As a Plug’em ambassador, Anne is passionate about reducing the stigma of wearing earplugs to protect hearing in environments with potentially dangerous volume levels such as gigs, festivals and clubs. In the discussion, it was suggested that perhaps there is a need for more strict decibel restrictions in the UK.
As a former teacher, I wonder whether this is something that needs to be addressed in schools, starting with a focus on volume levels in the classroom?
Personally, I hope for more international interest in tinnitus research. I feel that this is a worldwide condition which needs a worldwide solution. I’d love to see collaboration between research institutions around the world where key focus areas of study are agreed.
Surely, creating strong communication links in the research community and sharing outcomes and discoveries, could help drive research forward with more dynamism and impact.
Moving Forward Towards “a World Where No One Suffers From Tinnitus”
To summarise, the main priorities from the discussion were as follows:
- Create a UK tinnitus registry
- Focus research on identifying biomarkers for tinnitus
- Raise awareness of the effect of tinnitus on mental health
- Promote prevention measures, e.g. more strict decibel restrictions in the UK
The British Tinnitus Association will combine the recommendations from both discussions and present them to government ministers in order to move forward the search for a tinnitus cure.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has already taken an interest in raising the profile of tinnitus research on the political agenda. “I am very happy to look specifically at the case for increased research funding into tinnitus and to work with [Sir John Hayes] on it,” he responded, following the roundtable event.
It was an honour to take part in such a lively and positive discussion. I feel that bringing this level of awareness to tinnitus is a very positive step towards finding a cure. And, for me, I have a little more hope that I will one day be able to enjoy silence again.