I'm posting this on behalf of someone else who is highly likely autistic. They have had severe high pitched tinnitus for a few weeks which started 3 days after wax being removed by practice nurse (ear 'syringing') GP has arranged referral to ENT doctor but wait is nearly 5 months. I read that tinnitus is often linked to some hearing loss in certain frequencies (the brain tries to "fill in" the missing sounds) and if so, hearing aids can help. Free hearing tests are available at Specsavers, but hearing aids from them cost £495-£2500 plus, whereas they would be provided free from the NHS, but after a potential 5 month wait suffering from a debilitating constant sensory assault with the usual associated anxiety this causes for those of us on the AS spectrum (although it can of course also be a strain for people who are not autistic) Two types of anti-anxiety medications have been prescribed so far, but neither seem to help.
I just wanted to ask if anyone has suffered with tinnitus, and if so whether hearing aids helped?
I've always had very waxy ears and suffered with tinnitus (high-pitched, pulsatile, constant, at least four different sounds going off at the same time) so last February I decided to have my ears syringed to try and reduce the tinnitus. However, it made it slightly worse. I thought, as my ears were clear of wax, that it would be a good opportunity to have a hearing test (at specsavers). It proved I had a hearing loss and the lady told me to take the results to my GP for a referral.
After 9 months I finally got an appointment with the ENT who was, quite frankly, useless. He actually shrugged and said, 'Guess it's just one of those things.' He confirmed what the lady at specsavers had said, that I could benefit from hearing aids, and around a month later I got my hearing aids fitted. The audiologist who did the fitting told me I'd had a slight loss since birth that had been exacerbated by pregnancy (Otosclerosis, where the tiny bones in your ear fuse together, thought to have a connection to hormones.) Somebody should pay her the ENT's salary.
I totally get the anxiety. I was ill constantly last year, because of the stress of waiting for the ENT appointment (not to mention the three year wait for an autism assessment) but I would say that having the aids has made everything so much easier. It can't get rid of tinnitus, but making all the other sounds louder helps to drown out the tinnitus, and its not so distracting when your struggling to keep up with a conversation. It's also quite useful because you can say, 'Sorry, I've got a hearing loss,' and people don't get annoyed if you can't keep up, even if it's not the hearing that's the problem.
I would say to your friend to definitely get a hearing test now for peace of mind, and, if they do have a loss, try to find coping mechanisms until they can get their aids. I was often told that people struggle to get used to hearing aids, but I took to them straight away, even with the anxiety of putting things in my ears. Anything to lessen that awful ringing is worth it in my opinion.
Hope this helps :)