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Tinnitus: Scotland’s problem buzz

Many of us will have experienced a temporary buzzing or ringing in the years after a night out at a noisy nightclub or concert, particularly if you’ve found yourself close to the speakers.  For generations of teenagers, battle-hardened metallers and punks and hedonistic clubbers, how much noise a person can tolerate was often viewed as some sort of masochistic test of prowess.   Hopefully such attitudes are disappearing, however.  Take a look around next time you go to a gig; you may be surprised by the number of people wearing earplugs.  Still, with the seeming omnipresence of smart phones, mp3 players, tablets and other mobile devices often comes the heavy use of earphones.  If you traveled by public transport recently, chances are that you were treated to crackling excerpts from someone else’s choice of music.  Such a problem has kept writers to newspapers busy since the introduction of the Sony Walkman, but the ear buds of today seem more dangerous than the fuzzy headsets worn by the likes of Cliff Richard in his Milton Keynes-shot Wired For Sound video.  Often with little or no cushioning, ear buds let in a lot of environmental noise, with the listener pushing up the volume even higher to compensate.   Figures released by the Scottish Government last year estimated the number of people who consulted their doctor or practice nurse for tinnitus symptoms during the year 2008-2009 to be 13,001, compared to 10,526 during 2004-2005.

Tinnitus can be caused by natural hearing impairment as we age, congenital hearing loss, injury and certain conditions and can also be a side effect of some medications.  By far, the majority of cases are noise-induced, however.  With symptoms ranging from low-pitched hissing to high-pitched screeching, tinnitus can be particularly unpleasant for chronic sufferers, who often find it interferes with their sleep and daily activities.  Still, help is at hand, with many studies looking into the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba and supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals such as a B12 and magnesium.  Next month on Thursday 3rd November, herbalist Anna Hill discusses the options available to manage this condition, as well as tips for self support and seeking professional help. A £6 non-returnable deposit secures your place. Call 0141 564 3184 or book online.