If you are one of the estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from some form of tinnitus, you know how frustrating the condition can be. Tinnitus is a perceived sound when no actual sound is present. While tinnitus is most commonly described as a ringing in the ears, the sound may present itself as a whistling, rushing, whooshing, clicking, buzzing, or rustling.
Because tinnitus can be a temporary (acute) or long-term (chronic) health condition, it is difficult to know what to expect at the onset. Once it becomes apparent that the sound is not going away anytime soon, patients typically turn to a medical professional, often a primary care physician.
Imagine the following scenario: You have recently begun hearing a ringing or buzzing sound. It didn’t go away overnight, so you called your physician and scheduled an appointment. During your visit with the doctor, he or she diagnoses you with tinnitus, tells you that the condition may or may not go away and that you will “just have to live with it.”
While parts of this imagined discussion may be true—the condition may resolve or it may not, and there is currently no sure-fire “cure” for tinnitus—the overall delivery and explanation is not the whole story. There are various treatment and management options available for tinnitus, so you do not have to “just live with it.”
Furthermore, whether you have just begun to experience tinnitus or have been struggling with it for months, your medical care professional should take your mental wellbeing into account. Research shows that up to 75 percent of patients with severe tinnitus struggle with anxiety, depression, and behavior disorders. Tinnitus also increases a person’s risk of suicidal and self-harm ideation.
If you suffer from tinnitus, know that even if the condition continues, you will not always feel the same way that you do now. With proper coping methods, you can reduce your anxiety and depression and begin to see life beyond tinnitus. While we recommend that you work with a hearing professional or therapist who specializes in tinnitus management, here are a few simple tips you can begin implementing now to help you reduce anxiety and stress:
Remember that nothing is “one-size-fits-all,” so find the combination of coping techniques that work for you. While your tinnitus may not disappear tomorrow, you can work toward better mental wellbeing—starting today.
To learn more about managing mental distress with tinnitus, or if you would like to set up an appointment with our caring hearing professional, we welcome you to contact our office today.