Widex Canada announced that a recent survey it conducted has revealed that while 58% of primary healthcare providers across Canada see patients with tinnitus on a weekly basis, only 21% of them report referring them to an audiologist, otolaryngologist, or hearing care professional on a regular basis.
A condition described by some as a ringing in the ear, tinnitus is experienced by nearly 40% of Canadians, according to the announcement. The Widex Canada survey is intended to gauge the level of awareness and approach to treating tinnitus among primary care physicians (PCPs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) from across Canada who are active in their field.
The survey revealed that a high number of Canadian PCPs and NPs are familiar with tinnitus, reporting being either very familiar (40%) or somewhat familiar (57%) with the condition. NPs (50%) were significantly more likely than PCPs (30%) to be very familiar with tinnitus. Respondents reported that hearing loss is the top concern for patients experiencing tinnitus.
The Widex Canada survey was also conducted in part to shed light on the complex patient journey that most people undertake from the time they first encounter hearing issues until they seek specialized treatment. Industry data suggests that, on average, it can take as long as seven years for someone experiencing a hearing issue until they seek and get treatment. That length of time can be detrimental to patients’ cognitive, emotional, and physical health.
According to Steven Pugsley, senior audiologist at Widex Canada, increased awareness among healthcare professionals about tinnitus can go a long way in not only providing relief for people experiencing it, but also to lessen stigma and demystify the topic of hearing loss, which can initially present as tinnitus.
“Tinnitus is not just a common discomfort, it can be a sign of major health issues like hearing loss that if left untreated, can lead to progressive cognitive impairment,” said Pugsley. “A less than full understanding of the condition could mean healthcare providers dismiss it as normal or untreatable, extending the time it might take for patients to seek specialized care and attention.”
The underlying causes for tinnitus can range from injury and ear infections to earwax, sensory nerve disorders, and natural aging. It can also be caused by medication, high blood pressure, or alcohol — but most often it is caused by repeated exposure to excessively loud noise. There’s no cure for it, but treatment options include sound therapy with the help of specialized hearing aid technology, cognitive behavioral therapy, Widex Zen Therapy (WZT), and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, a process of working with patients to learn to live and cope with tinnitus.
- Primary healthcare providers report tinnitus being most commonly experienced by patients between the ages of 40 and 79.
- Most Canadian PCPs and NPs are familiar with tinnitus, with PCPs and NPs reporting being either very familiar (40%) or somewhat familiar (57%) with the condition.
- NPs (50%) were significantly more likely than PCPs (30%) to be very familiar with tinnitus.
- Similarly, healthcare professionals are generally aware of some of the available options for tinnitus management such as tinnitus retraining programs, sound therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Fifty-eight percent of primary healthcare providers across Canada see patients with tinnitus on a weekly basis, but only 21% of them report referring them to an audiologist, otolaryngologist, or hearing care professional on a regular basis.
- The top concerns among patients experiencing tinnitus include hearing loss (46%), interruptions in concentration (38%), and major anxiety (35%).
- A smaller percentage of tinnitus patients expressed concerns over interruptions in their sleep (28%) and dizziness (20%).
To learn more about tinnitus, including the full range of Widex hearing aids equipped to manage tinnitus, visit: www.widex.com/en-ca/hearing-loss-and-tinnitus/tinnitus/.