The ENT Doctor and Hearing Therapist

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Sep 26, 2017.

    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      The ENT doctor and Hearing Therapist

      Some people have asked me, why do I recommend a person to be referred to Hearing Therapist or Audiologist for tinnitus treatment, management and counselling?

      When a person is seen by an ENT doctor for the first time, a detailed history of their tinnitus will be taken. This will be followed by a hearing test and MRI scan and any other tests that may be relevant. If they show no abnormalities the doctor will usually discus treatment options. In the early stages of tinnitus, it is not unusual for doctors to advise patients to wait a while and see what happens. Although this might seem strange there is a good reason for this. The ear is a very delicate organ and starting treatment too early could make matters worse.

      Many people habituate to tinnitus within the first six months and sometimes a little longer without any treatment. It has also been known to go away. If a person is feeling stressful by the noise which is not uncommon, prescription antidepressant can be helpful in preventing them becoming too down. Stress makes tinnitus worse and tinnitus makes stress worse. It can become a vicious circle where one’s emotions and moods are constantly changing. Therefore, it’s important that any anxiety is kept under control.

      There are times when medication is not be enough and a referral to a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist is required who specializes in the treatment and management of tinnitus. These health professionals often do counselling. They will help a person to think differently about their situation by showing them a way forward and looking at life more positively. Over time demystifying and removing a lot of the negativity that is associated with tinnitus. Not surprisingly, this level of understanding and empathy doesn’t always come from training and working in an ENT department alone, as some of these people also have tinnitus. They were either born with it or acquired it at some time in their life. I have met quite a few Hearing Therapists and Audiologists at tinnitus forums helping people. At some point they have told me that they have tinnitus.

      Some people have told me that their ENT doctor is not very understanding and has a cavalier attitude to tinnitus. Understandably they are not pleased about this. I agree that the bedside manner of some doctors needs to be improved. In my opinion, ENT doctors are not tinnitus experts. They are physicians and know all about the anatomy of the ear and able to treat it medically or surgically. I believe the majority do this well but when it comes to understanding and knowing about tinnitus, a different set of skills are required that most don’t have because they have never experienced it.

      My consultant is an Audiovestibular physician whom I have a lot of respect for. She once told me that I know more about tinnitus than her. She explained because never having experienced it. For this reason, when there is no underlying medical condition causing the tinnitus a person is referred to a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist trained in the treatment and management of tinnitus.

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