Someone who has never experienced tinnitus can be at a loss when it comes to dealing with a friend or loved one who has it. For instance, it can be tempting to simply dismiss the sufferer’s complaints, assuming that he or she is imagining things. The first step in being of help to a friend or family member who has tinnitus is trying to understand how they might be feeling. Tinnitus can be enormously frustrating, tiring and anxiety-producing, all of which can add to stress, which can worsen tinnitus symptoms. So, if that friend or family member seems to be getting easily annoyed, or seems to be avoiding social situations on a regular basis, it may be due to the effort of dealing with their tinnitus.
In the worst cases, which are rare, tinnitus is debilitating, with its effect on a person being obvious and easy to understand, since they can articulate what’s going on clearly.
But in most cases, people with tinnitus are dealing with a persistent nuisance that can be hard to describe and that most of us can’t entirely understand.
Here are some practical suggestions on being helpful when someone close to you is experiencing tinnitus:
- Be the one person who knows what they are going through, so that when they feel out-of-sorts because of tinnitus, they can count on you understanding.
- When you’re going out together, or arranging a meeting, ask if there is a place they prefer because the venue has good sound quality for them.
- Should they start showing signs of fear or anxiety about their tinnitus, be patient and listen.
- Offer to help remember situations in which their tinnitus gets worse and then help them remember situations to avoid.
- If the person with tinnitus is your spouse or significant other, the tinnitus has the potential of becoming an issue in your relationship. Establish a policy of straightforward honesty about how dealing with the situation is making each of you feel.
The most important thing we want to suggest is optimism. Tinnitus sufferers need not to continue suffering and their personal relationships need not to be strained. Tinnitus can be managed very effectively. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with tinnitus, or if you are struggling with trying to understand and help, encourage them to seek help. Have their tinnitus professionally evaluated by a doctor or a certified hearing specialist. Understanding the source of tinnitus is the first step in keeping it at bay.