Effective Communication Strategies for Individuals with Tinnitus
Updated: Aug 25
Communicating with a person who has tinnitus can be very stressful for both parties. Even with hearing aids, proper communication strategies with family, friends and coworkers are a must.
The following tips will help when communicating with a person experiencing tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that disturbs millions of people worldwide. Tinnitus meaning in simple words is sensation of hearing sounds when no external sound is present. These sounds could be ringing in the ears, hissing, buzzing, roaring, clicking and many other sounds. It could be temporary or permanent. Sometimes, it comes and goes and other times, it is present the whole time.
It is very important to understand that tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom to many possible underlying conditions. That is why it is very important to identify the root cause of it and treat it accordingly. It is often associated with hearing loss and considered sometimes to be a symptom of it. However, it can happen to normal people, independent of hearing loss.
You have to know that there is no cure for tinnitus. There are many techniques that you could follow and use to reduce its symptoms and effects.
How tinnitus affects our daily life?
Tinnitus has drastic changes on the person’s life. It can interfere with their daily activities. Even though you look healthy, you might be suffering greatly from it and nobody understands what you are going through. Some might not even believe you in the first place or they might think you are overreacting.
Tinnitus and stress can be interrelated because tinnitus gets worse with stressful situations.
It can lead to:
Social isolation and loneliness
Influence on intimate conversations and casual humor
That is why effective communication strategies can help to overcome these challenges and improve the quality of life. What someone with tinnitus needs is courtesy, communication and consideration.
Developing compassion strengthens the connection with those with tinnitus.
Tips for effective communication with people experiencing tinnitus
The good news is you have the power to help those experiencing tinnitus whether directly or indirectly, in ways that can make a big difference. If you have tinnitus and you suffer from it yourself, you can share this blog with your family and friends.
Maintain eye contact with the person and face them directly.
Don’t try to make a conversation from another room. Visual cues are a very important factor for successful communication. A person with hearing loss or tinnitus might not hear you when you speak from one room to another.
Before beginning the conversation, make sure you have the person’s attention. It helps them focus on your words and be aware that you are addressing them.
You can tap the person on the shoulder before you start talking.
You can say their name before talking. This simple action focuses the listener’s attention, and a head turn gives the speaker the acknowledgement that the person is prepared to start the conversation.
Speak slowly and straightforwardly to the point.
Avoid shouting because it can lead to distorted speech and your words will be difficult to understand.
Raising your voice can do more harm than good. Speaking in a clear and slow manner makes it easier for the person to keep up.
Pause between sentences. This allows the person in front of you to understand what you are saying.
Don’t cover your face with your hands or any other object. Individuals with hearing loss or tinnitus rely on visual cues and sometimes lip reading. Clearly seeing the mouth when speaking is a must.
Try to find a quiet area without any background noise. Noises can be distracting and can make the person with tinnitus miss out on a lot of what is being said.
When having a conversation, turn off the television, radio, or any device.
Assistive listening devices can be very helpful when talking. Check with your audiologist to determine which ones are appropriate to be used.
Always pay attention to the listener in front of you. If you see them confused, offer to clarify what was said on the spot.
Be patient with yourself and the person you are communicating with because it might take more time and effort than regular conversations. If the person asks for something to be repeated, it is helpful to repeat so that everyone stays on the same page.
Educate yourself about tinnitus and its symptoms. This will help you understand more the suffering of your loved one. Try to understand what they are passing through and show them that. The more you understand their situation, the more authentic your support will show in their eyes. You have no idea how much this makes a huge difference.
Tips for successful communication with family and friends
Let them know you have tinnitus
It is very important for your family and friends to know about your condition so they can make certain adjustments to their communication style.
Your coworkers as well should know that you have tinnitus. This will avoid any misunderstanding and will improve your working relationship.
Choose a quiet and calm environment
Try to choose a quiet atmosphere to reduce any background noise that might affect the conversation. Choose also a well-lit space so you are able to see the speaker’s face and read their lips.
Hearing aids, cochlear implants and different assistive listening devices can help you hear better.
What can be done to manage tinnitus?
Different strategies and approaches work for different people. Many coping tools can help in finding temporary relief. Sufferers can reach a place where sound doesn’t bother them anymore. Their brain will start to tune out the sound more and more with time. Not all strategies are suitable for all people, so the audiologist and the patient should work together to create an individualized involvement plan that helps them ease their condition. This includes:
Lifestyle and diet adjustments
Here are some suggestions on how to manage your tinnitus:
Stay positive! You can be very easily discouraged by the limited options of tinnitus treatments. Research still continues to know more about tinnitus and understand its condition.
Redirect your attention. Focusing on tinnitus can exacerbate its symptoms. Going after a hobby or a favorite activity can be a refocusing tool.
Discover masking noises. Tinnitus is usually obvious when trying to sleep or early in the morning. Using noise machines mask the noise of tinnitus.
Avoid loud noises by wearing hearing protection, especially when operating lawn equipment and machinery, playing an instrument or attending concerts.
Put on some background noise such as music or nature sounds. Anything entertaining or relaxing can do the job. Make sure to keep the volume below the volume of tinnitus whenever possible because the tinnitus volume might spike a little when the other sound is turned off.
Reduce stress. Tinnitus is more noticeable during periods of stress. Breathing exercises and techniques, meditation, music, aromatherapy, taking a walk and yoga all lessen stress.
Get adequate sleep at night and have lot of rest. Fatigue has been proven that it increases tinnitus.
If you think you have tinnitus, you should schedule a hearing evaluation and seek medical advice from a professional audiologist. They can help in finding the best treatment for your condition in order to communicate effectively with all those around you. By following the tips outlined above, you can improve your quality of life and reduce all the frustration accompanied with tinnitus.