MPs call for funding to research cures for hearing condition linked to suicidal thoughts

Olivia Petter
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MPs from different political parties are calling for more funding for research into cures for tinnitus, a hearing condition that causes noises in your ear or head when there is no external cause.

New research published the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has found that one in five people with tinnitus think about it “every few minutes” and say it can be as loud as a jet engine, whistling kettle or dentist’s drill.

Meanwhile, one in seven of the 1,620 people surveyed said their tinnitus can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Roughly one in three people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives while 7.1 million UK adults live with it permanently. The NHS states that it can sound like whooshing, humming, hissing, ringing and/or buzzing.

In light of the BTA’s research, Sir John Hayes (Conservative), Lilian Greenwood (Labour) and Tommy Sheppard (SNP) have agreed to work together to campaign for more funding into researching tinnitus and finding a cure.

The survey, titled “Time to Listen”, also found that more than half (57 per cent) of those with tinnitus experience low mood and sadness while 42 per cent say they take part in fewer social activities because of the condition.

A third also said their tinnitus is trivialised by friends, family members and work colleagues.

The BTA claims that research into tinnitus receives 40 times less funding compared to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The survey marks the start of Tinnitus Week, which runs until 9 February and is calling for one per cent of the health service cost of treating tinnitus to be spent on research to find cures, which would amount to a total of £7.5m per year to be dedicated to research.

David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the BTA said: “It is a travesty that tinnitus – with its huge mental health impact – receives 40 times less funding than comparable conditions.

“Yet our committed research community has made great strides in recent years to bring us to the edge of major progress. We need to seize this opportunity by making the investment needed to grow the field and make the huge leaps forward that are so important to people with tinnitus.”

Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, added that research into tinnitus “has been so neglected”.

“Tinnitus affects wellbeing, relationships and careers and yet we still know so little about it,” she said.

“It’s vital that as politicians we work together to secure the funding and infrastructure changes needed to progress towards finding a cure.”

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