Why is my ENT Doctor useless?

Why is my ENT Doctor useless?

Over the years I have read many posts at tinnitus forums. Therefore, it is of no surprise to see familiar questions and comments recurring especially by those that are new to this condition. Understandably, some people are in distress and seeking help. They want reassurance that all will be well. Many want to hear the right answers to their questions or at least their version of it because anything less doesn’t compute. Will it go away? How long does it take to habituate? Will I get my life back? When will a cure be found? The list goes on.

In addition to this, I often hear people say that their ENT doctor doesn’t understand their tinnitus or what they are going through. After all, they are supposed to be the experts right? Sometimes it can leave a person feeling desperate and at a loss, not knowing what to do or where to go for help. This realisation comes, after various tests have been done on their auditory system only to be told by their doctor, that no abnormalities where found. The advice given is to leave things as they are for now and see what happens.

Some people don’t believe in the wait and see approach and have even said their ENT doctor is completely useless when no help has been offered. Whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion, I don’t agree with this statement. However, I do understand how one can come to this conclusion, especially when the bedside manner of some doctors leaves a lot to be desired. This needs to improve if a patient is to feel proper care and consideration is being afforded to them, because we know that tinnitus can be very debilitating when severe and can affect one’s emotions considerably.

The ear is a very delicate organ and if there is no underlying medical condition causing the tinnitus, such as: pain in the ears, deafness and dizziness or balance problems. The advice to wait and see what happens is usually correct. Many people learn to habituate within the first six months sometimes a little longer and it has been known go completely away. Too early an intervention could make matters worse.

In the early stages of tinnitus, it is not unusual to experience stress, anxiety and even some depression. These symptoms usually improve with time. Having a word with your GP about this can be beneficial, as medication can be prescribed to help you cope and they don’t have to be taken long term. I am a believer in using sound enrichment; during the day and especially at night. Whether this is via a dedicated sound machine or playing low-level non-intrusive music by the bedside. The volume level set to just below the tinnitus.

ENT doctors are important health professionals and I have a lot of respect for their skill and expertise. They know all about the anatomy of the ear and are able to treat it medically or surgically. However, in my opinion they are not tinnitus experts, which I believe calls for another set of skills that the majority of them don’t have. This is the ability to know, understand and empathize, with what a tinnitus patient is going through when the condition is loud and intrusive.

My consultant is an Audiovestibular physician whom I have a lot of respect for. She once told me that I know more about tinnitus than her. She explained because never having experienced it. For this reason, when there is no underlying medical condition causing the tinnitus a person is sometimes referred to a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist trained in tinnitus management. This can involve counselling, wearing devices such as hearing aids or white noise generators. Treatments such as TRT, CBT and Mindfulness and relaxation therapy can also be helpful.

These healthcare professionals help their patients by showing them a way forward and demystifying a lot of the negativity that surrounds this condition. Not surprisingly, this level of understanding and empathy doesn’t always come from training alone, for some of these people also have tinnitus. Over the years I have met quite a few Hearing Therapists and Audiologists at tinnitus Internet forums helping people. At some point they have relayed to me that they have tinnitus or were born with it as my hearing therapist was.

Michael

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  • I couldn't agree more with regard ENT and Audiology. I have an appointment with my GP this Friday as I've simply had enough, I haven't a clue what too ask for, I'm simply at my wits end

  • HI Carol. I understand what you're going through because I've been there. I feel a referral to a Hearing therapist or Audiologist, for tinnitus management which can cover many things will help you.

    All the best

    Michael

  • I'm seeing my GP today, I'll let you know how I get on

  • There must be a huge variety across the country as myou experience and that of others in my locality is sadly extremely poor . Even my GP was frustrated. I haven't experceived homelessness or domestic abuse personally but I am considerate and kind to the people I work with , treating them as human beings - not as a stupid child to be scolded and belittled ad we have found locally . I hope other people seeking help get the flip side of our experience

  • Hi Lindsay,

    You make a valid point.

    The bedside manner of some GPs and ENT doctors needs to be improved if tinnitus patients are to have more confidence in them and feel respected. I should say, if a person persists in going to their GP complaining about tinnitus they are usually referred to ENT for tests to be carried out on their auditory system.

    As I’ve previously mentioned, my ENT consultant is an Audiovestibular physician. I have a lot of respect for her skill and knowledge of the anatomy of the ear and I believe most ENT doctors are the same.

    However, as my consultant admitted to me, she doesn’t know anything about tinnitus because she has never experienced it, although through consultation with tinnitus patients, she knows it can be a very debilitating condition when it is loud and intrusive.

    The way I see it: ENT doctors treat the ear medically or surgically and they do this very well. When there is no underlying medical condition causing the tinnitus, a patient is usually referred to a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist who is trained in tinnitus management. ENT doctors are not tinnitus counsellors which I believe calls for another set of skills.

    In my opinion, the tinnitus experts are the Hearing Therapists and Audiologists who help tinnitus patients to manage the condition better using a variety of treatments that includes counselling. It is not unusual to find most of them have tinnitus.

    I also believe knowledgeable people in this condition can be found in tinnitus forums where people give advice that hopefully will be helpful to others.

    Michael

  • Hi Michael. Agree , though not all hearing therapists are helpful ( I can't say more ) . There is a lot 9f understanding that tinnitus can be made worse by stress ,that talking and other therapies can help but we have to pay for them. My audiologist has tinnitus and a friend has recently been designing more ' therapetic' approach training for audiologists. Indeed the groups and fora are good, and I find , personally , some great empathy and support from friends with chronic fatigue /ME. What I find hardest is - like today - the fact that whilst at work I can more or less put my tinnitus into the background but by the end of the day it is ' back ' ' when I would like to relax . Flipside I guess is that at least I can get out and about for some of the day😊

  • HI Lindsey,

    I agree with you that not all hearing therapists are helpful. I suppose there is good, better best in everything and then there's being quite awful! I have had tinnitus for 20 years. When I first go it, like many I was going through a very difficult time. The hearing therapist that I had wasn't helpful at all and could be quite brusque with me at times.

    I am not the kind of person that will accept this kind of behaviour, and it resulted in me writing a letter to the head of the Audiology department and I never saw her again. I later learned that other tinnitus patients made complaints and the hearing therapist was asked to leave.

    Not surprisingly this person never had tinnitus in her life and therefore had no understanding of it. I am not saying that it's a perquisite for a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist to have tinnitus to enable them to counsel and help tinnitus patients, but I believe it helps.

    My second hearing therapist was completely different. She was patient and I felt that she really understood what I was going through. Therefore, I wasn't surprised when she told me that she was born with tinnitus.

    Most of the people that I've talked to at tinnitus forums, tell me their Hearing Therapist/Audiologist has tinnitus.

    Michael

    PS: If you would like to read my article/book on tinnitus, please send me your email address in PM.

  • Hi Michael, I totally agree. I have found an audiologist who "understands" my T, and he has changed my life. With hearing loss too - 50% in that affected ear, he has been an absolute god send - literally. I am now coping much better and when I talk to him I know I'm not going to be treated like a mental case - which is what I get at my gp surgery.

    Thank you for the post.

    Jane

  • HI Jane,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am pleased that you are getting help through your Audiologist.

    All the best

    Michael

  • Hi

    What I think is lacking at GP level is access to known effective practice in dealing with Tinnitus. This could be passed on to patients there and then. Doctors and other health professionals also need to be informed that just simply saying play some music as I was and still am on occasions is not good enough.

    You would think today with computer tech that a directory could be readily accessible to all GP's of all known effective treatments.

    I am thinking of the types of hearing aids available, benefits from and types of sound and meditation apps readily available for phones, use of pillow speakers for overnight relief etc.

    It has taken me 4 years of stress and trial and error to get a combination of aids and relaxation methods that work for me. I now find that relaxation is the key for me dealing with my Tinnitus a high pitched whistling sound.

    Regards

    G

  • My E.N.T. consultant referred me to the hearing therapist at our local hospital. She suffers from tinnitus herself and was very helpful. Got no help from G.P, was only when my hearing deteriorated last year and was referred to cardiology that I got any help.

  • Hello

    I dislike a lot of ENT specialists because of they don't listen and frankly they are wasting NHS money.

    My story is 20 years old and thank god i meet a specialist who actually knew and solved my problem the very first time i seen him, he solved my tinnitus but that wasnt what i went to see him about because it wasnt bothering me that much, i had ear ache and pain in the pressure tube from my ear to throat, i seen 3 speacialist and the nonsense they came out with really was making me feel dishearted and making me feel depressed,i really was close to ending all, constant infections and constant pain for 20 years and was getting worse as i got older , specialist said it was my jaw,my teeth,some bone at the back of my head and even said stress was causing it , i really thought they were going to say it was my toe or knee next.

    So i dont trust most ENT doctors now but this doctor were great, i have no pain and my life as improved vastly thanks to him.

    Instead of looking into my ears like the other useless ENT doctors had been doing, this guy simply put a camera up my nose and seen the septum bone was quite large and starting to block the pressure tube so he operated, cut the bone down and opened the tube up, it took a year for things to settle down but now im a completely a new man, not only did it stop the ringing noise in my ear but i suffered from neuraglia alot and that as just stopped completely, now i know this might not be your problem but its surprising how all these things are connected.

    My daughter who is 20 now is getting the same problems as i had so i went with her to see a ENT doctor and i told him my story, he completely dismissed it and said he was 100% sure it was her jaw so that proves to me that some are useless and won't be told,he didnt even look up her nose or entertain the idea even tho i have a sister and brother who as suffered the same thing so i have booked her into see this specailist what solved my problem for a 2nd opinion.

    You just need to find the right ENT doctor and pay to see them private if you have to because it is quite scary what these over paid doctors are doing.

    Dave

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