By Hoglund Family Hearing and Audiology Services
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when there is no external source for that sound. In a minority of cases the sound may have a physical source within the body, like the sound of a person’s pulse, but in most cases the sound is generated by the brain spontaneously. Tinnitus is very common – about one in eight adults experience it.
The experience of the sound can be difficult to manage. For around one in ten people with tinnitus, there is a significant impact on their quality of life. This is where understanding and support from family and friends can make a big difference.
What does tinnitus sound like?
Everyone’s tinnitus is different. Many people hear a ringing sound, but others hear whistling, buzzing or crackling. There are many different experiences, and, like fingerprints, there are endless variations.
The noise may be heard in one ear, in both ears or in the middle of the head or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location. The noise may be low, medium or high pitched. There may be a single noise, or two or more components. The noise may be continuous, or it may come and go. It can be quiet or very loud, or the volume may fluctuate.
How does it affect people?
Tinnitus is sometimes a difficult condition to learn to live with and often causes anxiety. Anxiety, in turn, often makes the experience of tinnitus worse. Many people with tinnitus feel isolated because there is just no adequate way to explain the struggle to come to terms with the constant or recurring presence of sounds that they can’t control. Some people describe their condition as tiring or even exhausting. In the first months especially, people can feel they are fighting a constant battle.
You may notice changes in the person’s behaviors. Perhaps they have become short-tempered, withdrawn or distracted. Tinnitus can draw people inwards as their attention is constantly being diverted towards it. Their concentration is affected, and this can mean that everyday tasks take longer than usual to complete.
How can I help?
Your friend, relative or partner will benefit from your patience and understanding as they adjust. Just being aware that what they are going through may be causing them problems is a huge help. Ask them if there are practical things you can do to help. For example, some people find loud or echoey environments very difficult, but don’t want to always be the person in a group to suggest a different meeting place or activity. Other people find quiet environments tricky where there is more focus on the sound of their tinnitus. Your support in backing up whatever option makes things easier for them can be a big relief.
Help the person to assess whether they are letting their tinnitus control them. Try to support them to make a balanced decision about any lifestyle changes, rather than one based on their fears and worries, but do accept their decisions once they have decided to seek help. If possible, always go with your loved one to show support and learn as much as possible about the condition.
You can also encourage an open-minded approach to different coping techniques and try to be open minded yourself. For example, if night times are difficult, it can be extremely helpful for a partner to be open to the person trying a bedside sound generator.
If you are a friend of the person, perhaps you could join them in wearing ear plugs for a night out, not only protecting your own hearing but helping them not to feel like the odd one out.
Another helpful thing to do is to encourage the person to get a Tinnitus Assessment from an Audiology Clinic, if they haven’t yet done so, or to encourage them to go back to see their clinician if their tinnitus changes significantly. Going with them to the appointment turns it from a condition that they face alone… to a challenge you face together! Likewise, encouraging a positive approach to recommended treatments is important. For example, if the tinnitus is accompanied by a hearing loss and a hearing aid is recommended, your support can go a long way to help the person more comfortable in wearing hearing aids.
“Knowledge is Power” when it comes to dealing with any health issue. Hoglund Family Hearing and Audiology Center tries to support Tinnitus Sufferers by bringing highly acclaimed Tinnitus Speakers to Southwest Florida throughout the year as part of their popular “Lunch and Learn” Lecture Series. These meetings are designed to give Patients new insights as to the vast array of new treatments that have often dramatically improved the condition and helped a large percentage of Tinnitus Sufferers get relief from the head noises and lead more normal lives.
This month, Dr. Susan DeBondt will be back to Southwest Florida for a series of SEVEN Tinnitus Lectures October 28th through November 1st. There is NO CHARGE for these Seminars and Lunch will be provided to all attendees! PLEASE join your loved
one to learn how you can help, and to learn how other families have found HOPE and HELP with this confusing and frustrating condition.
Hoglund Family Hearing And Audiology Center
Fifteen 8th Street, Suite B (Next to Royal Scoop Ice Cream)
Bonita Springs, FL 31434
Southwest Florida Tinnitus And Hearing Center
10020 Coconut Rd. Ste.120 (Next to LabCorp)
Estero, FL 34135
AUDIOLOGY CENTERS OF HOGLUND FAMILY HEARING
13710 Metropolis Ave.Suite 101
(One block west of Gulf Coast Hospital)
Fort Myers, FL 33912
Hoglund Family Hearing And Audiology Center
1003 Del Prado Blvd South, Unit 204
(Towers Professional Building, Next to Downtowner Car Wash)
Cape Coral, FL 33990