My name is Veronica Kennedy. I’m an Audiovestibular Physician specialising in children’s hearing disorders. I feel passionate about supporting Tinnitus Week and am very excited that this year the focus is on children and young people.
While tinnitus is common, we know that the condition can have a devastating impact on some people and affect how they live their daily lives. What many people don’t know is that children can also have tinnitus.
Children can report being aware of noises in their ears even at a pre-school age. They may not come out and tell people that they have noises in their ears unless they are asked, particularly if they have had them for a long time.
While most children aware of tinnitus are untroubled, for some it can have a significant impact on their state of mind. The tinnitus can affect how they get on in school as either noisy classrooms or quiet study environments can make the tinnitus worse. The tinnitus can make it difficult to hear or concentrate on classroom activities and affect their progress in school. A child may opt out of normal childhood activities such as parties or other social events in case they may the tinnitus worse. This can affect the friendships that a child has.
At home, a child might find it difficult to sleep because of the tinnitus. Typically children troubled by tinnitus are stressed or anxious. There is, however, lots that can be done to help. The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has developed a range of children’s information booklets for different ages that are really helpful for a child curious or troubled by tinnitus. There is also an accompanying range of workbooks to help a child and their parents or health professionals work through the issues the child may have with tinnitus. The BTA also has information for parents and teachers to help a child with tinnitus.
Our aim is that children with tinnitus are supported so that they know what the noises in their ears are and feel comfortable about discussing them with others. This may stop tinnitus from becoming a problem or, where it is a problem, we want to help children develop the tools to manage their tinnitus.
We also want to avoid children developing tinnitus where possible and encourage the use of ear protection in loud environments or where loud music is played. I would encourage everyone to support Tinnitus Week and help address the needs and concerns of every child with tinnitus.
Veronica Kennedy is an Audiovestibular Physician at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and a former chair of the British Tinnitus Association’s Professional Advisory Committee.
Tinnitus Week runs from 5-11 February 2018 aiming to get the nation talking about tinnitus and highlight the stories of those living with it, particularly children and young people. For more information please visit the British Tinnitus Association’s website www.tinnitus.org.uk. You can also follow the hashtag #TinnitusWeek on social media. To download the new BTA resources designed for parents and teachers to understand more about tinnitus and to support children with the condition visit: www.tinnitus.org.uk/Pages/Category/tinnitus-in-children