The number of people living with tinnitus in the UK is set to rise by more than half a million by 2028 

  • The British Tinnitus Association has today revealed that the number of people living with the hearing condition is set to increase by more than 500,000 over the next decade

  • Because of this, the charity has released further support for GPs and launched a nationwide ‘Hear Us Out’ campaign, warning of a ‘revolving door’ when it comes to patients seeking help for their tinnitus

  • An estimated 1.05 million GP consultations take place every year in the UK, with the treatment pathway for tinnitus costing the NHS £750 million

THE NUMBER of people living with tinnitus is set to increase by more than half a million over the next decade, according to research conducted by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).

The charity, which has released the figures to coincide with the Royal College of GPs Conference which is taking place in Glasgow 4-6 October, is warning that in light of the research, GPs need to be made more aware of how to deal with patients reporting tinnitus symptoms.

As such, the BTA has released further support for GPs – a postcard-size phrase guide to use with patients - to supplement its tinnitus guidance issued in 2017.

David Stockdale, chief executive of the BTA, said: “We already know that sadly, many GPs here in the UK simply don’t understand tinnitus and how it can be managed.

“This means that often, those who are living with the condition are left feeling dismissed and unsure of how to manage it. Many end up back in their GP’s surgery, creating a real revolving door problem that is stressful for patients and costs the NHS money.

“We hear reports from patients saying they’ve been told that they have to get on with it, or some who have even been laughed at by their GP. That’s why, on the back of these worrying statistics which show more people will develop the condition, we’ve compiled a new ‘What to Say to a Patient’ guide, to help GPs take a more helpful and understanding approach when presented with a patient with tinnitus.”

The postcard-size phrase guide, released as part of the charity’s #HearUsOut campaign, gives GPs guidance on what to say to a tinnitus patient, including: ‘You’re not alone’; ‘Support is available’; and ‘It does get better’, stating that ‘your choice of words will make a big difference’.

David added: “There are already an estimated six million people living with tinnitus here in the UK and this latest research provides worrying food for thought. The frontline healthcare system is already unequipped to support tinnitus patients in the right way, so we need to act now before an additional half-a-million more people develop the condition.”

The research, based on previously available tinnitus prevalence figures and population projections from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows an additional 559,838 people will develop the hearing condition over the next ten years.

Prof Chris Dowrick, a GP in Liverpool and member of the BTA’s Professional Adviser’s Committee, said: “Every GP wants to feel that they are supporting and helping their patients in the best way possible but with a condition such as tinnitus, where the latest treatment options and resources available aren’t as widely known, this isn’t always easy.

The BTA’s introduction in 2017 of the simple set of guidelines for GPs about tinnitus has been of enormous benefit but it is clear more needs to be done, especially in light of this latest research showing the predicted rise in patient numbers to come. Therefore, this latest addition from the BTA is very much welcomed and I hope GP practices across the country will take note.

Tinnitus, described as a sensation or awareness of sound that is not caused by an external sound source, affects approximately six million people in the UK at present – ten percent of the UK’s population. Approximately half of those patients find it moderately or severely distressing, with complaints of intrusiveness, emotional stress, insomnia, auditory perceptual problems and difficulties with concentration.

The British Tinnitus Association’s #HearUsOut campaign runs from 5-12 October 2018 and urges people with tinnitus to speak up about their condition and to share the new messaging guidelines with their own GP.

For further information, visit www.tinnitus.org.uk/hearusout