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Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears when no external sound is present. Sadly, there is no known cure for tinnitus No surgery or pill has been shown to get rid of it in any clinically accepted study. Starkey Hearing Technologies is the only privately held, American-owned company in the hearing industry. Tinnitus is one of today’s most common hearing complaints affecting almost 5 million people in the UK – an amazing 10% of the adult population.
However, for some people tinnitus can become a major disturbance leading to difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and in some cases, emotional problems and depression. The good news is that tinnitus is nearly always harmless and there are many steps you can take to minimise its disruption on your life.
Tinnitus tends to be associated with getting older but it affects people of all ages including a growing number of younger people due to the increasing noise of modern day life. Mr Ian Johnson, Clinical Director for ENT Services and a leading Consultant ENT Surgeon at the Freeman Hospital says “We see lots of patients here with tinnitus from as far afield as Whitehaven and Berwick all the way down to Sunderland. The Freeman Hospital’s Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Service is led by Tom Davison, Chief Audiologist.
Tom and his team take a very holistic approach to helping people learn to cope with the tinnitus and get back to living a normal life again.
Alan Robson, aged 70 and a retired lorry driver from Blyth was diagnosed with tinnitus two and a half years ago after he had his ears syringed to remove some ear wax.

Alan comes to the Freeman’s Tinnitus Clinic every six months and uses a tinnitus masker which produces a gentle rushing sound that Alan concentrates on to help him ignore the tinnitus. There is also a Tinnitus Support Group – part of North Tyneside Disability Forum - which meets twice monthly, alternating between Thursday 2-4pm and Tuesday 6-8pm at the Shiremoor Centre, Earsdon Road, Shiremoor. If you continue to use our site, we'll assume that you are happy to receive cookies from our site. Typically described as a persistent ringing, buzzing or whistling in the ears, most people will experience tinnitus at some point in their life and it is quite common to have it for a short while after exposure to loud noise  - for example after a music concert. Some people find themselves more sensitive to normal everyday sounds and listening to the radio or TV can be painfully loud when it is at a normal volume for others. Tinnitus can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives so it’s really important if you have it to seek professional help.
He says: “Tinnitus can be a distressing condition and although there is no “quick fix” treatment we can provide lots of advice and information to help people learn to live with it.
They hold Tinnitus Retraining Therapy sessions to retrain the brain to ignore and effectively “switch off” the sound of the tinnitus. He has benefited from using sound therapy with a special device called a “White Noise Generator” or tinnitus masker. I thought I was going to go deaf completely but over time and with the help of the Hearing Therapists, I’ve learnt to get used to it”.
Alan also goes along to a local support group where other people affected by the condition can go along and share their experiences.

Typically, suffers describe the sound as “ringing in ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping.
Others hear tinnitus when they are in a silent environment like a sound-proof room or library. Your GP can refer you to be seen by an ENT Surgeon who specialises in ear disorders and you will have a series of tests to make sure there is no underlying cause for the tinnitus.
We hold special counselling sessions with each of our patients, talking through their lifestyles including diet, recent changes in circumstances and any medication they might be taking. It can take anywhere from six to 18 months to be completely effective so patience is essential. Alan adds “If you let the condition get you down, you think about it all the time and notice it more but if you can learn to live with it and work at ignoring it, then it makes life a lot easier. We may find for example that too much alcohol or coffee is causing the problem or there may have been a recent bereavement or other situation causing anxiety.
These sessions involve learning relaxation techniques or cognitive behaviour therapy, experimenting with your diet by cutting out common culprit food and drinks, and sound therapy - listening to soothing music and sound generators or wearing a “tinnitus masker”. Talking to other people and sharing your experience helps too – you soon realise there are other people much worse off than you”.

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