Don’t you hear it too? Helping children and young people with tinnitus


2023 sees Tinnitus Awareness Week running from Monday 6 February and one in eight adults have tinnitus.

However, did you know that approximately one child in every 30 children has clinically significant tinnitus? That’s one child in a group experiencing buzzing, whistling, or ringing sounds when other children experience silence. Would you know who that child is?

Tinnitus (aka ringing in the ears) is the sensation of hearing sounds in the absence of an external source for those sounds. It’s a commonly believed myth that tinnitus only affects older adults, yet research shows that this is not the case and tinnitus in children is a lot more common than people think. Tinnitus is more likely in children with hearing loss, or experiences of glue ear, but the most reliable way to know if a child has tinnitus is to ask them.

Children may not spontaneously disclose this information to parents or educational practitioners, but children are usually capable of describing the noises they hear in the terms they are familiar with. For young children this may be replicating the sounds they can hear or talking about buzzing bees or whistling trains. For older children this may be a preference for avoiding noisy spaces or even very quiet environments, showing distress or difficulties concentrating on people’s speech.

Whilst some parents and professionals are concerned whether asking a child about tinnitus is the right thing to do, the charity Tinnitus UK advocates for the approach of asking children about tinnitus, providing an informed opportunity to reassure the child and address any concerns they may have.

Tinnitus is unusual as it is a common symptom with few treatment options and those that exist are aimed at reducing the impact of the condition. Indeed, there is no known cure for tinnitus. Reducing the impact of tinnitus within each child’s daily life can include taking time to understand what a child is experiencing, listening to a child talk about their noises, answering their questions and talking through their worries. Referral routes are available via the GP or paediatric audiology services. There is also support material on the website for Tinnitus UK. Many children are not significantly impacted by their tinnitus and small changes can offer significant support.

Dr Clarrie Smith is the Deputy Head of School for Children Young People and Families delivering work based Foundation degrees at Leeds Trinity University, and Dr James Jackson, who has tinnitus himself, is a Reader in Psychology delivering the Postgraduate MSc Psychology (Conversion) programme at the University. They are currently engaged in research to better appreciate understanding of tinnitus in educational professionals.

Leeds Trinity University's Corporate Communications team is the first point of contact for local, national and international media.

Looking to source a comment or would like to arrange an interview with one of our academic experts? Contact the team on +44 (0) 113 283 7100 or email the Communications team.

More about the Press Office