“It is the working man who is the happy man.”
It’s hard to argue that our work can be an important part of who we are. We may not always enjoy every minute of it, and we may occasionally dream of all that we’ll do when we retire from work, but the benefits of working often go beyond just the paycheck. Unfortunately, many who want to work are unable to. Even some who can work find it challenging for one reason or another. This includes those with tinnitus.
Here’s what you need to know about working with tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
Considered one of the most common conditions affecting Americans, tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ears, affects over 45 million people in this country. It can be caused by:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Head trauma
- Loud noise
- Certain medications and underlying medical conditions
- Fluid in the middle ear
Tinnitus severity and “sound” varies from person to person. This is also true of the mental, physical, and emotional toll it can take, often resulting in increased anxiety, irritability, reduced social interaction, and even depression.
It may also negatively impact an individual’s working life in more ways than one.
Tinnitus as an employee
In a recent survey by Tinnitus Hub, respondents offered interesting insights into just how much tinnitus can affect how a person works, what work they may choose to pursue, and even whether or not they are able to work.
The 2018 survey asked 1800 people the question, “Has Tinnitus affected your job or work prospects?” Almost 40% of those surveyed said that tinnitus had negatively affected their job or work prospects. This negative impact included:
- Difficulty concentrating – Whether it was a mild, moderate, or severe difficulty, concentration or the ability to focus on the job was a top concern for those with tinnitus. Rather than being able to devote full attention to the task at hand, they felt that some of their attention was pulled away by the buzzing or ringing in their ears.
- Sensitivity to noise in the workplace – For some, the difficulty was in the loudness of the environment. Many with tinnitus find they also become more sensitive to noise. Some of the survey respondents shared stories of apprehension over pursuing jobs in which noise could be an issue.
- Lack of understanding – Whether it’s tinnitus, hearing loss, a disability, or something similar, a lack of understanding can sometimes prove to be a workplace barrier to be overcome. This feeling was true for many of those who participated in the survey.
The findings of the survey not only highlight the many common challenges those diagnosed with tinnitus may face in the workplace, but they also identify opportunities for employers to help make every employee feel more comfortable, appreciated and supported. Whether this is time off to adjust to a new diagnosis of tinnitus, a new seating arrangement to minimize background noise, or other strategies, tinnitus doesn’t have to be a barrier to great work.
If you have questions about tinnitus and how to manage it or believe you may have tinnitus and would like to schedule an evaluation, contact our office to learn more.