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Coping With Tinnitus In The Workplace

For millions of people around the world, work is a place of accomplishment, social interaction, and even self-identity. Our jobs contribute to who we are as people and affect our day to day lives, hopefully for the better. But for 32% of Americans struggling with varying degrees of tinnitus, their time in the workplace can be negatively affected by this common condition. According to a 2018 Tinnitus Hub survey, tinnitus is affecting more employees and their jobs than ever, drawing attention to an often overlooked problem and the massive economic impact tinnitus can have on your paycheck and health.

38% Of Respondents Are Struggling

Analyzing the data received from 1,800 respondents, the Tinnitus Hub survey had found that 38% of those who answered reported tinnitus has negatively affected their work prospects. Over 17% had reported that their tinnitus has stopped them from pursuing career progression, while 11% reported that they are struggling and thinking about giving up employment altogether. Most alarming, over 9% had said they have stopped working due to their tinnitus. Unfortunately, these numbers highlight the physical and mental barriers that many face in the workplace, making it harder to be productive or pursue new opportunities. Regrettably, these numbers are not surprising. Research has linked tinnitus to depression, anxiety, and mental health complications, with over 33% reporting severe depression associated with their tinnitus in some studies.

How Tinnitus Can Affect You At Work

There are multiple complications stemming from tinnitus that many of us face, including fatigue, depression, and anxiety. However, according to the Tinnitus Hub survey, respondents reported that difficulties with concentration were the biggest problems affecting them in the workplace. Survey participants reported that tinnitus negatively impacted their concentration mildly (41%), moderately (33%), and even severely (20%), with only a small minority reporting no concentration issues. Though tinnitus can cause fatigue, this trouble in concentration differs from listening fatigue that those with hearing loss experience. The constant ringing from tinnitus requires the brain to force the bothersome buzzing into the background, allowing other sounds and actions to be focused on instead. When one has to consistently block out sounds to concentrate on simple tasks, it can be difficult to focus on duties or be hopeful about future job prospects.

Work Environments May Contribute To The Problem

For some, their work environment may actually contribute to their tinnitus symptoms. Certain professions expose workers to dangerous volumes that may exacerbate or even cause tinnitus. Construction, manufacturing, and military service can expose workers to volumes exceeding 85 decibels, which can be harmful to your hearing health, but even environments with lower volumes can be detrimental. Those suffering from tinnitus often struggle with hyperacusis, a debilitating condition that makes patients hypersensitive to even typical levels of sound, like an office environment or phone calls. This can cause ear pain or spikes in tinnitus, making it difficult to perform or concentrate in common work environments.
If you are struggling with tinnitus in the workplace, seek out medical advice from a hearing health professional about treatment options and tips on how to cope. Sometimes, your tinnitus symptoms can be eased by changing medications or with assistive listening devices. Don’t lose hope when it comes to achieving your professional goals.

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The Insomnia And Tinnitus Connection

insomnia and tinnitus

Fifty million Americans experience the ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing, humming, and other noises that accompany tinnitus. Tinnitus is not a disease, but somewhat of a symptom of an underlying problem. There is a variety of conditions that can cause tinnitus with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. There is also a connection between tinnitus and a good night’s rest as many people with tinnitus have difficulty sleeping. However, treatment for the two is similar and can be useful.

Tinnitus And Insomnia

The problems a person who has tinnitus experiences may not be limited to a ringing noise in the ears. It is possible that a sleep disorder may be connected with tinnitus and have life-changing effects for a person. According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, chronic insomnia is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep for three months. Insomnia must occur at least three times per week and also impair daytime functioning. The person with tinnitus often complains of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, early awakenings, and chronic fatigue. Estimates indicate that 50% of people with tinnitus also have chronic insomnia.

The Connection

The effect of tinnitus on a person is very much like that of the impact of insomnia. When a person experiences both at the same time, shared psychological patterns and worries become a common theme. The more intense the severity of tinnitus is, the higher the chances that the person will experience insomnia. Cognitive distortions and negative thoughts are common among both tinnitus and insomnia patients. Avoidance behaviors develop which add to the negative thinking.

Treatment

Because insomnia is a frequent complaint of those with tinnitus and the two share similarities, treatment should share a common goal. It is common for healthcare professionals to recommend benzodiazepine medications such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin to help people with insomnia sleep. The issue with these medications is that they are highly addictive and the withdrawal symptoms of these medications can be worse than the symptoms for which they took the drugs.
Clinical trials indicate that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) provides a higher degree of sleep improvement with fewer side effects. Studies with similar findings recommend CBTI for tinnitus. Although hearing aids can reduce the impact of tinnitus, they do not benefit insomnia. A patient may find relief from alternative options such as online training for insomnia and mindfulness-based stress reduction for tinnitus. Melatonin can help reduce insomnia and tinnitus according to studies. Because of the minimal side-effects associated with Melatonin, the researchers recommend it be a part of treatment for both tinnitus and insomnia.

Get Relief Today

Insomnia and tinnitus bear similarities in their symptoms and effects. Research indicates that improvement in patients with both is possible. Remedies such as CBTI, and Melatonin, which help both problems are useful. If you have tinnitus, insomnia, or both, don’t sit on the sidelines and be miserable. Schedule an appointment today with a healthcare professional to learn what you can do for this nagging, and often life-changing conditions.