October 18 is National Menopause Day and our Director, Sarah Chapman, shares her thoughts on the link between the Menopause and Tinnitus.
So, how am I qualified to talk about this? I’m not medically qualified, but I have experience. I work with my husband, who is an audiologist, here at angli-EAR Hearing. I’ve also experienced the challenges of the menopause.
In 2019 I had a hysterectomy at the age of 43 having suffered from PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder). I’ve suffered probably since my teens. Certainly from my early 20’s this has been a major issue for me. I was essentially put into a medically-induced menopause for more than 10 years before my hysterectomy, and balanced my hormone levels with HRT. Working in an audiology clinic, I meet many women of menopausal and peri-menopausal ages and they chat to me of their experiences.
Tinnitus, commonly known as “ringing in the ears,” is common among the elderly and in women. It can present itself as a variety of sounds, not just ringing, such as buzzing, whooshing, whistling, swishing or clicking. These sounds create a background of noise when there is no sound actually present and can range from a mild annoyance to significantly disturbing.
There are many reasons why people get tinnitus. There can be physical reasons such as wax blockage or hearing loss as the root cause. However, some studies have shown that hormonal changes and fluctuations during menstrual cycles are associated with hearing problems such as tinnitus. Tinnitus can be triggered by Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), peri-menopause, menopause and pregnancy. The onset of other menopausal symptoms such as sweating, hot flashes and mood changes may also correlate with tinnitus.
Tinnitus can also be caused by some prescription medications, including aspirin and quinine, some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, some chemotherapy and certain diuretics. Some studies have found HRT to cause tinnitus, other studies have found low doses of HRT can help tinnitus (always discuss any concerns or medication side effects with your GP)
Tinnitus can also be a symptom of stress. Menopause is a time of change which can often coincide with other stressful life events. Children leaving home, career changes, financial change, body changes etc.
In my experience, once I took control of the symptoms I felt more empowered to deal with them. Once I sought and found the help of medical professionals and discovered ways to manage my symptoms this reduced the stress. I treated my symptoms as my body’s dashboard – in the same way we get a warning light on the dashboard of our car and seek help to understand and resolve the issue. I see this is the same way as our menopause symptoms. What is it our body is telling us we need?
Ask yourself, what is happening in my life that might be causing me to feel this way? Listen to your body and take the action needed to help you resolve the issues you are experiencing. Seek help, you are not alone. Getting the right help from the right people is key. You deserve better, and you may need to fight for the help (although recent menopause campaigns in the media are helping to make this less of a battle, thanks Davina!), but you are worth it.
Speak with your GP about any menopause symptoms that you may be experiencing. Our expert audiology team is also on hand to help with tinnitus coping strategies and therapies. Just give us a call. Don’t put up with it any longer.