Author(s): Holmes S, Padgham ND
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Abstract AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To provide an overview of tinnitus, current management and its psychosocial impact offering strategies for managing acute and chronic tinnitus in practice. BACKGROUND: Tinnitus, characterised by the perception of sound in the absence of external stimuli, is experienced by about 10\% of the population at some time in their lives. It may be temporary/longstanding; approximately 5\% adults experience severe, persistent tinnitus affecting their lifestyle. Although many adjust successfully, others are disabled by the condition. Though often unrecognised, tinnitus affects many patients regardless of their presenting illness. DESIGN: A literature review including descriptive, theoretical and empirical material. Databases were searched using the keyword 'tinnitus' providing diverse information which was used to address the research questions. RESULTS: Tinnitus represents more than 'simple' ringing in the ears and may be accompanied by many distressing changes. It may be acute or chronic. It is difficult to treat, care may be directed towards management rather than cure. Many patients are, however, told that 'nothing can be done'. Relevance to clinical practice. Despite the high prevalence of tinnitus, there is a paucity of relevant nursing literature suggesting that there is an information deficit amongst nurses. The information provided shows that understanding the full impact of the condition and identification of patients' needs are essential to effective care. Strategies to help affected patients are given. CONCLUSIONS: Tinnitus, a widespread, often intractable condition, affects millions of people; there is considerable debate about its causes. Tinnitus is distressing and may be severe enough to affect lifestyle and quality of life. Affected patients need considerable support and advice on healthcare options, encouragement to try different treatments and recognition that help and hope are available. Though patients may have to learn to live with tinnitus, the most important thing is that they recognise that help is available.
This article was published in J Clin Nurs
and referenced in Journal of Phonetics & Audiology