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University Hospital Antwerp offers tinnitus therapy for children

Antwerp University Hospital offers tinnitus therapy for children

The University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA) recently started offering tinnitus therapy for children who suffer from tinnitus. Research conducted by the hospital among 415 children shows that 10% suffer from tinnitus. The therapy offered by the hospital teaches children to deal differently with the sounds they perceive. This makes the tinnitus more manageable for them and less of an obstacle in their daily lives.

Research on tinnitus in children.

Tinnitus is a symptom in which a beep, noise, hiss or other sound is perceived that is not present in the outside world. It is a common complaint. The same appears to be true in children, according to UZA research. At four different elementary school in Flanders, the researchers surveyed 415 children between the ages of 9 and 12 about their experiences with tinnitus. What transpired? 1 in 10 children reported suffering from it.

Cause tinnitus in children.

What is the cause of tinnitus in children? Tinnitus can occur in children due to middle ear infections. Placing eardrum tubes (repeatedly) can also contribute to it. When the tube goes out of the eardrum, scar tissue forms on the eardrum. This causes a small hearing loss (see research). Other forms of hearing impairment are also a major cause of tinnitus. In addition, there are numerous physical causes and also psychological causes that can contribute to the onset and maintenance of tinnitus. The exact cause cannot always be determined. Exposure to loud music and noise can also be (partly) the cause of tinnitus in children.

Tinnitus therapy for children.

The survey results prompted hospital specialists to ask about the symptoms of tinnitus in children from now on. In fact, children do not always report their tinnitus symptoms spontaneously. To help children who suffer from tinnitus in everyday life, the UZA launched tinnitus therapy for children. For that, they can visit the tinnitus clinic.

Audiologist Dr. Laure Jacquemin of the UZA says about this in the UZA Zorgmagazine: “First of all, we do psycho-education: we explain clearly to both parents and children what tinnitus is, what just happens in the brain, and that there are many children who suffer from this, so they are not alone.” Jacquemin continues: “This often already feels like reassurance, making the parents and children feel less anxious.” Should this psychoeducation be insufficient, further therapy can be given.

Jacquemin: “We are currently helping about ten children with this tinnitus therapy. Together we find out which emotions and thoughts they link to that beeping sound. This is how we then try to make that annoying sound feel less ‘important,’ so children are less bothered by it in their daily lives.”

Parent involvement important.

Parental involvement in both psychoeducation and follow-up therapy is very important according to practitioners. Indeed, the parent’s anxiety can, in turn, have a significant impact on the child himself.

Hypersensitivity complaints to sound.

The UZA study also found that a small proportion of children have hypersensitivity complaints to sound. These complaints occurred in 3% of the children studied. The children then experience everyday environmental sounds as too loud. This may also cause them to avoid them. The very act of avoiding situations can perpetuate and even intensify symptoms. Incidentally, not all children experience a negative impact of this hypersensitivity to sounds on their daily lives. But some report that it makes them sleep less well or make it harder to concentrate in class. Just under 10% of children with these hypersensitivity complaints say they would sometimes prefer to leave the playground because it is too loud there for them.

[Source: Hoormij – Rene van der Wilk / Maguza]