Hearing Healthcare in St John's, Newfoundland
Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 13:35

Managing Tinnitus During Isolation and Increased Stress

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has literally changed the world as we know it, and how we are working, living, and managing our day-to-day lives. As a result of self-isolation, social/physical distancing, and requirements for health care clinics such as ours to limit operations, it has become increasingly difficult for many individuals to maintain and manage health issues, including their hearing health - and specifically tinnitus.

Our team at Newlife Hearing Health Centre understands that tinnitus (i.e., perception of noise or ringing in the ears) can be one of the most distressing disorders or audiological symptoms a patient can face, and that it can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life if left untreated. And these symptoms can worsen with
increased stress.

While we remain closed at the moment in compliance with Provincial COVID-19 regulations, we continue to interact with and support our patients over the phone and via email, and many have have noted that their daily lives have been significantly impacted, whether it’s missing work, their family interactions, and/or everyday normal things like social events, celebrations, exercise activity, etc. For others who are still working - on the front lines in some cases - the work day itself is causing increased stress as a result of the risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. And, for many of our patients with tinnitus, these stressors are indeed resulting in a worsening of their symptoms.

As such, we thought it would be helpful to provide some useful tips and reminders for effectively managing your tinnitus at this difficult time.

  • First, we know that any good treatment plan for tinnitus consists of counselling and support. While we are currently closed to walk-ins, we can certainly support you remotely, whether over the phone, video conference, or via email to help you develop, maintain, or adjust your tinnitus treatment plan. We’re here to listen, to understand the challenges you are facing with your hearing health and tinnitus at this difficult time, and, most importantly, we’re here to help.
     
  • Even in a remote capacity, we have a variety of tools in our toolkit that can help you as part of the treatment efforts, including virtual consultation, remote care/sound therapy application suggestions, the delivery of a variety of coping techniques, adjustments to your hearing aids (where applicable) to provide an optimized setup for your current situation and tinnitus symptoms, and more. We can help you with all of this while still
    maintaining physical distancing!
     
  • It’s very important to reinforce the importance of adjusting your hearing aid and your individual tinnitus program within the aid to help manage your current symptoms- it’s absolutely essential. Further, it is also very important that you continue to use your hearing aids- even if you are in isolation, and home alone. As our patients know from our counselling sessions, stimulating the auditory system through the use of hearing aid amplification is highly important, and we use this to help better manage tinnitus.
     
  • Some other helpful tips include the following:
    • Be sure to try and avoid excessive or loud noise, and use hearing protection if you must be around loud noise. Noise exposure can cause tinnitus to increase.
    • Enhance your overall stress management as a result of the isolation through helpful coping mechanisms such as regular exercise (e.g., going for a walk) and meditation, and/or basic stretching concentrating on the neck and facial area.
    • And, don’t forget about the importance of proper rest. We know that poor sleep patterns can affect a patient’s tinnitus- and we know that stressful times can sometimes impact sleep patterns. Do your very best to maintain a regular sleep pattern, and look for tips and tools to help if you are struggling. There are lots of apps available on your phone to support sleep (e.g., sound therapy apps), along with the use of a fan, radio sounds, etc. to help improve your sleep.

We know that this is a very challenging time for our patients and friends, including those with persistent and worsening tinnitus issues - and we’re here to help. Please contact us via phone (709.800.7343) or email to get more information, or to book an appointment, and be sure to visit our website for more information on tinnitus and overall hearing health, along with updates on our COVID-19 operating procedures and appointment options.

On behalf of the Newlife Hearing team, I want to close by wishing you and your family all the best. Please, stay safe, maintain good hearing health practices, and keep in touch. We look forward to seeing our patients and friends soon.

Jillian