It’s not uncommon to hear certain people in the hearing industry quip, “Patients with tinnitus are crazy”. Using the word “crazy” is cruel and inappropriate when referring to tinnitus patients. Imagine listening constantly to a shrill, tea kettle-like whistle/scream in your ears DAILY. Would that not drive you “crazy” or at least bother you immensely?
Tinnitus patients are no different than anyone else - with the exception that they are burdened by an irritating and obtrusive noise in their ears and/or head that will not cease. It can severely impact a person’s ability to function in their lives. The impact of tinnitus and it’s symptoms can vary to a large degree among different patients. However, if you’re suffering from tinnitus, there are a number of ways your hearing healthcare professional can manage the impact of symptoms. Check out these 6 tips your hearing healthcare professional should follow in helping with tinnitus:
- Ease fears - tinnitus generally is not a sign of a serious medical condition, but it is recommended that patients discuss the condition with their primary care physician. A medical referral, however, is necessary if there are other serious symptoms (such as facial paralysis, hearing loss, sudden on-set, etc.).
- Listen intently - patients often tend to want to talk about their tinnitus symptoms, and feel the urge to tell their story. Usually, the hearing healthcare professional is the first person that will listen and ask questions about the patient’s tinnitus experience. The professional should allow each patient to talk before a speedy diagnosis and before a treatment plan is prescribed. The most important and therapeutic part of the process, for some patients, is simply having someone listen.
- Show that they care - the patient wants to know their hearing professional cares. It’s common for patients to report that their primary health care providers have said “nothing to be done for tinnitus, you’ll just have to live with it.” This makes tinnitus sufferers feel like the healthcare professional doesn’t care, and leaves them feeling hopeless. Professionals should provide information and treatment options that are known to provide relief to help reassure the patient.
- Personalize treatment plans - tinnitus affects everyone differently - no two patients are the same. It is imperative that the hearing professional personalizes treatment to every patient, ensuring they provide the best possible tinnitus relief.
- Be prepared for questions - it’s likely that patients have done some research by the time they visit a clinic. There’s quite a bit of information on the Internet, so the hearing professional should be ready to answer any questions about the newest drug, the effectiveness of sound therapy or treatments claiming to “cure tinnitus”.
- Schedule more appointment time - Because tinnitus patients may require extra counselling and care throughout the evaluation process, a hearing professional may want to consider scheduling more time for tinnitus patients versus patients with hearing loss.
Although tinnitus is experienced differently for each person, sufferers all want the same thing: RELIEF. As a patient, it’s important your hearing healthcare professional gives you the attention and quality care you deserve.