The British Tinnitus Association has today revealed the extent of isolation felt amongst people living with the condition.
Research conducted by the charity has found sixty one percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that living with tinnitus makes them feel isolated from society.
The survey of 483 people with tinnitus also found that 58 percent thought a lack of understanding from others about the condition led to their feelings of isolation, and 40 percent stated their isolation was caused by the changes they had made to their social life because of their tinnitus.
Thirty three percent said they felt their problem was too easily dismissed by those around them.
When asked how their isolation could be improved, 67 per cent called for better public awareness about the impact the condition can have and more than a third (34 per cent) believed that better support from their GP could make a difference.
To tackle the issues raised and increase awareness of the condition, the ‘Share Your Sound’ awareness campaign has been created by the BTA to encourage people to share their stories, talk about their condition and seek support when they’re struggling.
David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association, said: “These results show the real impact tinnitus can have on someone’s quality of life and that without the right help, at the right time there can be long lasting consequences.
“Sixty one per cent of people with tinnitus feel isolated for a number of reasons including a lack of understanding from those around them or they were too easily dismissed – which just shows more needs to be done to support them. It’s also clear that to combat the isolation felt, people with tinnitus would like to see better public awareness of the condition.
“Share your Sound is a great way for us to try and do this by uniting the tinnitus community and empowering them to talk about their own experience of living with tinnitus more openly.
“We want to let people know that there is support out there so to ask for help whether it be from the BTA itself, friends and family, other people with the condition or, importantly, their GP.”
Earlier this year the BTA released guidance for GPs after it found more than half of tinnitus patients were unsatisfied with their doctor’s response to their condition.
David added: “When we talk to people with tinnitus, the feedback we often get is around the lack of information they get from GPs and this is backed up by our latest survey which revealed more than a third of people feel their GP could provide them with more support.
“Our GP guidance has been well received but it’s clear that more needs to be done. As part of this campaign we’re calling on GPs again to help them become more knowledgeable about the condition, and encouraging tinnitus patients themselves to reach out and ask for help.”
Tinnitus is an often debilitating condition that is described as a sensation or awareness of sound that is not caused by a real external sound source. It is estimated that six million people live with tinnitus in the UK and it can affect people of any age.
The condition, which accounts for approximately 750,000 tinnitus related GP consultations in England each year, can greatly impact on a sufferer’s quality of life.
Approximately half of patients report finding it moderately or severely distressing, with complaints of intrusiveness, emotional stress, insomnia, auditory perceptual problems and concentration problems.
David said: “Tinnitus can have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life but if they get the right help early on they are much more likely to lead a normal life. We want to do all we can to get that message across.
“We have a Share Your Sound pack available to download from our website which shows the different ways people can get involved in our campaign. This includes resources which we hope patients will take to their GP to give them immediate access to our Guidance for GPs which we believe will help them inform patients better.”
To find out more about Share Your Sound and to download a GP tinnitus support pack to share with your GP, please visit www.tinnitus.org.uk/sys.
For tinnitus support, please visit the British Tinnitus Association’s website: www.tinnitus.org.uk or call the BTA’s confidential freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527.
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