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How Quality of Life is Affected by Tinnitus

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a woman with tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom that is described as the perception of a noise or noises that no-one else can hear. It’s often mistakenly defined as “imaginary noises” or “noises that aren’t real,” but some kinds of tinnitus do have physical causes and are, in fact, real noises, but they’re only audible to the person experiencing it.

The cause of tinnitus can be difficult to pinpoint, so treatments such as hearing aids with masking features, sound machines, and tinnitus retraining therapy attempt to address the effect it has directly. This can be crucial, too, as the effects that tinnitus can have on quality of life can be very profound indeed. Here, we’re going to explore a few of those effects.

Tinnitus and sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential for our health. Sleep affects our metabolism, our mental health, even things like joint pain and backaches. One of the most notable effects of tinnitus is on how we sleep. Many people with tinnitus have difficulty getting to sleep because they are constantly hearing a noise that doesn’t seem to go away.

For many people, their symptoms can get more severe at night, as well. As such, many people with tinnitus will use a sound machine, which can produce background noise that may make it easier to get to sleep.

Tinnitus and focus

Tinnitus can also get in the way of concentration. Many people living with tinnitus find that it can be difficult to maintain their concentration, especially when trying to accomplish complicated tasks, due to the sound of tinnitus. Furthermore, some people experience tinnitus more acutely under stress, so trying to concentrate hard on a task may exacerbate the symptoms.

The difficulty with concentration and focus can also be a natural byproduct of the trouble sleeping that can come with tinnitus, as well. Not having a great night’s sleep will naturally make it harder to maintain concentration. If you are having trouble keeping your concentration due to tinnitus, it’s wise to arrange an appointment with your ENT doctor so they can help you find the treatments that diminish its impact or help you acclimate to it.

Tinnitus and hearing loss

Tinnitus does not explicitly cause hearing loss; however, the two symptoms are often linked. People who have tinnitus are more likely to have hearing loss and vice versa. When talking about the impact on quality of life that tinnitus can have, it's important to understand how it correlates to hearing loss, as well.

Hearing loss can make it more difficult to communicate with those around you, can get in the way of socializing, and may make people more likely to avoid social situations because they are self-conscious about being misunderstood or having to ask people to accommodate their trouble hearing.

Tinnitus and mental health

The impacts all mentioned above can work together with the symptom of ringing or buzzing ears to have a significant effect on the mental health of those living with tinnitus. People who have tinnitus are more likely to experience depression or anxiety, in part due to the difficulty sleeping it can cause, as well as social isolation.

Some people living with tinnitus find the symptom also makes them less energetic and more fatigued. This can be caused by the loss of sleep, often associated with the symptoms. However, consider that tinnitus can make it harder to focus and hear in your everyday life. As such, you are more likely to expend a lot more energy simply trying to live as you usually would, to work, socialize and maintain concentration. That can make day-to-day living a lot more draining, which can lead to fatigue and generally low energy.

The mental health effects are an established factor when it comes to tinnitus, and some kinds of treatment, such as tinnitus retraining therapy, can focus on it, not just the physical symptoms. Managing stress levels and incorporating other healthy habits can be just as important as treating the ringing in the ears.

Start combating the effects of tinnitus with your ENT doctor

If you experience tinnitus and you want help, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with your ENT doctor at Mountain Ear, Nose & Throat Associates. You can reach our office in Sylva at 828-586-7474, our office in Franklin at 828-524-5599, and our office in Murphy at 828-835-1014. We will be glad to tell you more about how we can help and to arrange an appointment as soon as we can.