Physicians and nurse practitioners may be unwittingly holding patients back from getting specialized care, possibly exacerbating stress, anxiety, poor sleep, and social withdrawal
TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A survey conducted by Widex Canada, one of the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers, has revealed that while 58 per cent of primary healthcare providers across Canada see patients with tinnitus on a weekly basis, only 21 per cent 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 per cent of Canadians. 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 per cent) or somewhat familiar (57 per cent) with the condition. NPs (50 per cent) were significantly more likely than PCPs (30 per cent) 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 behavioural therapy, Widex Zen Therapy 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 per cent) or somewhat familiar (57 per cent) with the condition.
NPs (50 per cent) were significantly more likely than PCPs (30 per cent) 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 behavioural therapy.
Fifty-eight per cent of primary healthcare providers across Canada see patients with tinnitus on a weekly basis, but only 21 per cent 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 per cent), interruptions in concentration (38 per cent), and major anxiety (35 per cent).
A smaller percentage of tinnitus patients expressed concerns over interruptions in their sleep (28 per cent) and dizziness (20 per cent).
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/
At Widex we believe in a world where there are no barriers to communication; a world where people interact freely, effortlessly and confidently. With 60 years’ experience developing state-of-the-art technology, we provide hearing solutions that are easy to use, seamlessly integrated in daily life and enable people to hear naturally. As one of the world’s leading hearing aid producers, our products are sold in more than one hundred countries, and we employ 4,000 people worldwide.
These are some of the findings from a Maru Public Opinion study undertaken by its sample and data collection experts at Maru/Blue from October 18-29, 2022, among a random selection of 50 primary care physicians (PCPs) and 52 nurse practitioners (NPs), who live in Canada and are currently working in their field. Respondents could respond in either English or French. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.
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