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Tinnitus & Sound Sensitivity Service

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is unique to the person experiencing it. But ultimately it is the sensation of hearing a sound when there is no external source for that sound. Someone with tinnitus may hear ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or other noises. Tinnitus can be there all the time or come and go. The volume of someone's tinnitus can vary from one episode to the next.

What is increased Sound Sensitivity?

Sound sensitivity is a condition when people experience the sounds of everyday life as intrusively loud or uncomfortable or even painful. Sometimes this is also referred to as Hyperacusis. For some, it is a minor annoyance. Other find it difficult to live with and withdraw from social and professional activities. This isolation can make the problem worse. Therapy can help to address fears and anxieties and sound therapy can help to re-build a tolerance for sound.

If you are concerned about your tinnitus or sensitivity to sound, please see your GP who can refer you to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, to arrange a hearing test and any other investigations that might be necessary. If your tinnitus or sound sensitivity is impacting your quality of life, the ENT department will refer you to Audiology for a further assessment and to see what can be done to help.

I have been referred to Audiology, what to expect?

The Tinnitus & Sound Sensitivity Service is a dedicated team of Audiologists with specialist training in tinnitus and sound sensitivity. They are able to advise, support and counsel anyone experiencing difficulty in managing their tinnitus or sound sensitivity effectively.

We currently offer advice on the awareness of tinnitus, sound sensitivity, hyperacusis and how to manage these appropriately. We also offer advice on relaxation, breathing techniques, the use of equipment to help where necessary and where to obtain these. We try to offer the most appropriate information based on the most current research.

We also provide advice on external agencies, locally and nationally, who may offer support alongside our management advice.

For some, we may consider hearing aids or noise generators, depending on the outcome of the assessment, for someone with tinnitus.

Individuals can be seen at University Hospital North Durham or Darlington Memorial Hospital. Initial assessments can take up to 1 hour to complete.

We will try to answer any questions you may have throughout the appointment and an information pack is provided for you to take home.

Subsequent appointments may be required depending on your circumstances and these will be arranged during this initial assessment or from a returned questionnaire which will be posted to you when you have had time to try the strategies suggested.

After any assessment, all relevant information will be passed to the necessary professionals as required.

Useful websites and contacts:

Tinnitus UK

Helpline: 0800 018 0527         Email:

Futurelearn (organised by the Open University) has free short courses on balance (ageing well the management of falls) and mindfulness (mindfulness for peak performance)

Durham Deafened Support -

Tel: 0191 5183358

Talking Changes -

Tel: 0191 333 3300

Our self help guides are available to download in several formats. Information available on Abuse, Alcohol, Anxiety, Bereavement, Controlling Anger, Depression, Domestic Violence, Eating Disorders, Hearing Voices, Obsessions and Compulsions, Panic, Post Traumatic Stress, Postnatal Depression, Self Harm, Shyness, Social Anxiety, Sleeping Problems and Stress.

'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital