Tinnitus impacts 1 in 7 adults in the UK and severely diminishes the quality of life for 1 in 6 of those individuals.
In December 2023, we conducted a study involving 478 people living with tinnitus to delve into your experiences and the challenges you encounter in accessing healthcare support for the condition.
The findings were frankly distressing but backed up by what we’re hearing from you via our helpline and support services:
- Over one in five respondents to our survey experienced thoughts of suicide or self-harm in the last year.
- More than 8 out of 10 reported low mood or anxiety, with 7 out of 10 feeling hopeless or helpless.
- 85.7% reported sleep disturbances.
- The emotional toll is significant, with 68.4% reporting low self-esteem and 54.9% struggling to think rationally.
Tinnitus is also linked to social isolation, impacting relationships and daily life, with two-thirds of respondents avoiding contact with friends, minimising social activities, or facing difficulties at work.
Despite National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines introduced in March 2020, substantial challenges persist in healthcare support for tinnitus sufferers.
- Half of the respondents secured GP appointments within a week, but 16% waited over a month.
- Referrals to secondary care decreased to 57.9%, with 11.7% not offered a referral.
- Waiting times for secondary care appointments have increased, with the number of people waiting over a year tripling from 2019 to 2023, to 1 in 6 facing waits of more than 12 months.
- Limited mental health support is available, with only 5% offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
In response to these alarming findings, we’re calling for immediate action:
- An evaluation of secondary care services and increased investment from commissioning bodies where necessary.
- Implementation of a standardized nationwide management model for tinnitus.
- Increased tinnitus education for medical professionals.
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“My tinnitus diagnosis has been devastating”
Annette was formally diagnosed with tinnitus on 5 January 2024. She spoke to us about her journey.
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Tinnitus Week report
Revealing the struggle for silence: Tinnitus UK highlights the alarming mental health crisis amid a void of support
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