Official Journal of the Neurootological and Equilibriometric Society
Official Journal of the Brazil Federal District Otorhinolaryngologist Society
Tinnitus is an invisible condition, and therefore, it is difficult for those without tinnitus to understand its devastating nature. In this study, we compared the perceptions of tinnitus and related symptoms from tinnitus sufferers and their significant others, in an attempt to improve our counseling to those with tinnitus.
An invitation was emailed to 230 adult sufferers on a tinnitus research registry at the University of Iowa. The tinnitus sufferers and their significant others completed an online survey consisting of statements that addressed how tinnitus affects their lives and open-ended questions that focused on how the significant others could be supportive.
Here we report the results of the 41 tinnitus sufferers (17.8%) who answered the survey and 31 significant others. Tinnitus sufferers reported problems regarding sleep, concentration, hearing, and thoughts and emotions. These difficulties were not always appreciated by their partners. Half of their partners (50%) asserted that their lives were affected by the tinnitus of sufferers, and this was not fully appreciated by sufferers. Tinnitus sufferers and partners agreed that significant others were not able to help with tinnitus. Open-ended questions showed that partners and sufferers wished that significant others understood more about tinnitus and its consequences. Significant others do not always appreciate the difficulties experienced by our tinnitus sufferers. We suggest that partners participate in counseling provided to tinnitus sufferers as part of the treatment plan.