Q: My teenage son listens to loud music a lot and suffers from tinnitus. Is there a connection and can anything be done about it?
A: Tinnitus is a distressing and very common hearing disorder, which affects ten per cent of the UK population. The sufferer hears phantom sounds in one or both ears that do not correspond to any external cause. Ringing, whistling, humming and buzzing are typical, according to the British Tinnitus Association (tinnitus.org.uk, tel: 0800 018 0527). Noise may be low or high frequency, loud or soft, and sporadic or a continuous wall of sound.
Tinnitus is seldom a symptom of a serious health disorder but it is wise to consult your GP, who may refer your son to an ear, nose and throat or audiology department.
The causes are not fully understood but exposure to loud noise is clearly a factor. Frequent and/or prolonged loud noise can damage the hearing system and increase the risk of tinnitus or make an existing condition worse.
Young people are increasingly affected. Vivienne Michaels, chief executive of Deafness Research UK (deafnessresearch.org.uk), says, ‘Playing music at high volume through MP 3 players [means] we risk tinnitus and deafness far earlier than would be expected as a result of old age.’ Read More…