The Tinnitus Specialist Blog

Thoughts and information on the latest in evidence-based tinnitus treatment.

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Recent blog posts
Posted by on in General
NHS Hearing Services Being Cut - Thought Of The Week

Longer Waiting Times

According to Action on Hearing Loss, 43% of 128 NHS trusts had to make cuts to hearing services during 2011 and 2012. This has meant longer waiting times and reductions in follow-up care.

Actions Have Consequences

The consequence of longer waiting times is that now with the Choose and Book system, a GP or patient can see which providers are available and how long the waiting time is. Why does this matter? Well, since AQP (Any Qualified Provider) was rolled out, any qualified provider of Audiology services can bid for a contract to provide hearing tests and hearing aids to NHS patients. Prior to AQP, we already had InHealth, a private company, taking a large chunk of patient journeys away from the NHS. Now, any high street hearing aid retailer can bid for these patients if they wish.

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Posted by on in General
Ear Candling - A Cost Effective Treatment For Tinnitus?

Fight fire with fire

There's a saying that goes "fight fire with fire", though many, including myself, would disagree with this. In some situations it's best to back down, even when you know your right, in order to allow the other side to cool down and see sense. Then, if they are sufficiently honest and intelligent they will admit that they were wrong. Fighting fire with fire, on the other hand, can lead to igniting further fires and soon the situation can end up out of control.

Fight wax with wax

Some people similarly believe that you should "fight wax with wax", or to be more precise "fight ear wax with candle wax". Now, you're probably thinking this is a rather odd way to start a tinnitus blog post, but bear with me on this. You see, ear wax is a potential contributor to tinnitus. In fact, anything which causes either a temporary or permanent hearing loss can "ignite" tinnitus due to changes in the brain as the brain tries to compensate for the loss of hearing.

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Posted by on in General
How tinnitus can feel - thought of the week

A big thank you to Anne Palmer from the London Tinnitus Treatment Clinic Facebook page, who wrote a poem when she was having a bad day with her tinnitus. It really illustrates how desperate and isolated tinnitus can make a person feel.

So, as you prepare yourself for the coming week, spare a thought for your friends and loved ones with tinnitus, and give some consideration as to how you can help them - even just asking them how they are coping may lift their spirits. This poem may give you an idea how they feel inside...

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Posted by on in General
More tinnitus drug research news... now with added spin!

I regularly research the latest devices for treating tinnitus as well as what is going on in the drug research world so that I can keep up to date with the latest treatments and give the best advice to my patients. After all, when you are looking for a tinnitus consultant you want to know that the advice they give you is based on current knowledge, not what they learned 20 or 30 years ago. One added benefit is that it can also help predict what treatments may be coming in the next five to ten years. Knowing that pharmaceutical companies are searching for a medical treatment for tinnitus gives hope to many sufferers that one day they'll be able to just take a pill every morning and evening and never again be troubled by distressing noises in their head. The trouble is, many drug trials end up going nowhere because it turns out the side effects are too severe and they can't find a way round them.

I'll give you an example: it has long been known that lidocaine, the same anaesthetic that dentists use to numb your teeth before drilling them, can switch tinnitus off when it is injected intravenously. Now don't go rushing round to your dentist to ask for a shot of lidocaine in your arm. "Why?", I hear you ask. Well, lidocaine has the very serious side effect that it prolongs the heart's QT interval. You may think a prolonged QT interval would be worth it to get even five minutes of relief from your tinnitus, but you'd be wrong. Listen to this description of the QT interval:

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The challenge of coping with hearing impairment at work - a cautionary but uplifting story

This article from the Guardian last year is thought provoking on so many levels...

It is a reminder to everyone to protect what hearing they have, as hearing loss can be career changing to say the least;

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Amazing new technology in the Siemens Micon range to combat tinnitus

My colleagues and I have been having some fantastic results with the new Siemens Micon range of combination devices.

Technology keeps moving forward

I'm just writing up a full product page on it, but the leap forward they have made reminds me of when Siemens first introduced their e2e (ear to ear) wireless technology back around 2005 and their SoundSmoothing technology not long afterwards. Although e2e initially only synchronised volume control and program changes as well as noise reduction levels between left and right instruments, these technologies were revolutionary at the time, and I remember thinking to myself that there couldn't possibly be a better hearing aid ever, but of course now most manufacturers have some form of wireless communication between the left and right hearing aids and/or mobile phones and televisions, and some form of reducing sudden rattling or clattering noises in their products.

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Posted by on in General
A kind thought to start the week

Mindfulness, one of the treatments offered by The London Tinnitus Treatment Clinic, can be an effective tool to reduce tinnitus distress. It can reduce anxiety, improve mental focus, reduce unwanted thoughts, and over time it can give you a sense of control over your tinnitus as well as other areas of your life. So, what then is this "mindfulness"?

Focussed thought

In common with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness believes that emotions are driven by thoughts. Whereas CBT has only been around since the 1950s, Mindfulness has been around much longer in one form or another. One of the main principles of Mindfulness is focused thinking, with a focus on the present, rather than worrying about the past or anticipating what may or may not happen in the future. This is taught by sitting quietly and focusing on something like the feeling of your breath as you breathe in and out, or repeatedly counting in your head from one to ten each time you breathe out. As someone with tinnitus, you'll probably find it easier to visualise the numbers in your head, but some people focus on the sound of the number being spoken in their head, and some people focus on both the picture of the number as well as the sound it makes.

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Posted by on in General
A very positive tinnitus patient testimonial

This article was recently published in WA Magazine. A tinnitus patient describes how the device turns the volume of her tinnitus down to a 2 on a scale of 1-10. Now, instead of having to leave the TV on all night to drown out her tinnitus, the device helps her get to sleep within ten minutes without the use of any medication. To see whether you can experience the same relief, call us on 0207 467 8473.

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Nightclubs high risk for recreational hearing damage and tinnitus

Following on from my recent post about research into a drug that could one day prevent noise-induced tinnitus, I was reminded of an article that I read earlier this year in the International Journal of Audiology supplement "The cultures of hearing loss prevention".

Elizabeth Beach, Megan Gilliver and Warwick Williams at the National Acoustic Laboratories in Australia analysed the results of a survey on 1,000 18-35 year-old Australian adults. They estimated that around one in seven Australian young adults are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss from noisy leisure activities, such as going to a pub, a fitness class,  a concert or live music venue, a sporting event or a nightclub. The figures are roughly the same for the USA and the UK and are in line with those found in studies in the UK and the US.

They found that with the high noise levels and an average stay of 3.3 hours, just one visit to a nightclub was worse than a whole week's exposure to workplace noise at the maximum legal limit.

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Posted by on in Research
Promising Drug Research To Prevent Noise-Induced Tinnitus

Scientists over at the University of Pittsbburgh (Pitt) School of Medicine have made a breakthrough in the search for a drug to prevent tinnitus after exposure to loud noise.

Thanos Tzounopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor and member of the auditory research group in the Department of Otolaryngology, Pitt School of Medicine says "There is no cure for it, and current therapies such as hearing aids don’t provide relief for many patients,” he said. “We hope that by identifying the underlying cause, we can develop effective interventions".

The team focused on the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN), an area of the brain that is an important auditory centre. The DCN has been found in previous tinnitus research on mice to become hyperactive after exposure to loud noise, and fire off random signals even when no sound is present. The new research looked at a particular kind of potassium ion channel, called the KCNQ channel through which potassium ions travel into and out of cells. It turns out that the mice have hyperactive DCN cells because of a reduction in KCNQ potassium channel activity. Normally, these KCNQ channels would act to dampen down the excitability of DCN cells.

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