Health. Why people who suffer from tinnitus suffer a “double whammy”

Health.  Why people who suffer from tinnitus suffer a “double whammy”

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It’s a buzzing, whistling or even chirping sound that can ruin life. Tinnitus is nothing abnormal, but quickly becomes unbearable when it is repetitive. And their power of nuisance does not stop there: they are also very expensive, as revealed by a unpublished study carried out by the National Hearing Day (JNA) and France Acouphènes associations.

In France, 1 in 10 adults are affected by tinnitus according to Inserm, with the impact varying greatly from one individual to another. Everyone knows, directly or indirectly, someone affected by this hearing disorder. According to one Ifop studyalso commissioned by the JNA and France Acouphènes associations, 53% of French people know one or more people in their entourage suffering from tinnitus and 56% say they have already experienced it themselves.

“An unrecognized disability”

These unwanted noises can occur for different reasons. Among those under 50, they are mainly caused by acoustic trauma (loud music, exposure to an alarm, gunshots, etc.). In older people, the onset of tinnitus is more gradual and is accompanied by hearing loss linked to aging (what is called presbycusis). But it can also occur after an emotional shock or even a head trauma. “All age groups are affected with a critical point around 41 years,” note the JNA and France Acouphènes associations.

Difficulty understanding what others say, lack of efficiency in daily tasks, poor quality of sleep, low morale or even depression… Tinnitus can considerably deteriorate the quality of life of those who suffer from it. To the point that the JNA and France Acouphènes associations consider them to be “an unrecognized handicap”. According to the study they recently unveiled, 20.8% of people affected by this hearing disorder have a severe form of disability and 12.6% have a catastrophic level.

Tinnitus is sometimes so debilitating that it has repercussions on professional life. 16% of the affected public declares having had to take time off work and 11.4% have even been forced to change jobs or positions because of this disorder.

2,000 euros less

Beyond the physical suffering, it represents an “economic and social burden”, point out the associations JNA and France Acouphènes. Their study, for the first time, estimates the costs associated with tinnitus in France. And they are significant: the people concerned declare that tinnitus has caused them to lose around 2,000 euros in two years, between medical consultations, the purchase of hearing aids, travel costs or the use of alternative therapies.

For social security, the average total cost per patient per year is 296.75 euros. A relatively low figure, compared to the average out-of-pocket cost per patient, estimated at 1,080 euros per year. The National Hearing Day (JNA) and France Acouphènes associations particularly regret that tinnitus markers are “poorly reimbursed”, as are custom-made earplugs.

To prevent people suffering from this disorder from suffering a “double punishment”, they call for “the establishment of a basket of care and the recognition of tinnitus among the disabling invisible disabilities”. They also plead for early medical treatment in order to avoid a “worsening of symptoms and comorbidities”. Today, French people affected by tinnitus wait on average 6.7 years after the first symptoms to consult.

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