This week (5th-11th February) is tinnitus awareness week. Tinnitus is the name given to perception of sounds in the absence of any external noise. It can be a whistling, rushing or pulsating sound or a mixture of different sounds.

Whilst we know that many adults who have poorer hearing as they get older also experience tinnitus, there is less certainty about the prevalence of tinnitus in children. We know that most people (including children) have brief experiences of noises in their heads and for the majority, the noises are not troubling. In children with permanent hearing loss, it may be that as many as 60% experience tinnitus but a very much smaller proportion of children are troubled by it, perhaps as few as 25% (Kentish, Crocker and McKenna, 2000). Children with hearing loss seem to be less troubled by the tinnitus causing additional difficulties in listening than children without hearing loss and this may be because they may be more accustomed to auditory disturbance and so find the impact of tinnitus less disruptive.

There appears to be a few factors that can either trigger or make your child’s tinnitus more intrusive to them. These include;

  • immediate and longer term stress (such as school exams, anxiety, upset)
  • parental separation 
  • fear of the dark

Kentish, Crocker and McKenna, 2000 suggest that talking with a child about their tinnitus reduced their anxiety and reduced the child’s fearfulness. Speaking to the class teacher and helping school staff to have a greater awareness of triggers for tinnitus was also helpful.

If you think that your child may be troubled by tinnitus, the British Tinnitus Association have developed some award winning activity books that you can find here.

Please talk to your audiologist about the approaches that you can take to help your child put effective strategies in place to help them manage their tinnitus. They will be pleased to help you.