Communication Tips and Tinnitus

Communication Tips for Individuals with Hearing Loss

  • Always watch the speaker.
  • Don't interrupt. You want to listen to everything he or she says.
  • If you don't hear everything, ask to have it repeated.
  • Summarize what you did hear so the speaker can fill in the rest.
  • Familiarize yourself with topics at meetings and current events, so it is easier to follow conversations.
  • Try to pick out the idea instead of the individual words.
  • Listen for key words and phrases.
  • Use the setting or context to help you get the meaning.
  • Don't be afraid to guess, using the context and situation as clues.
  • Keep you sense of humor.

Tips for Communicating with Individuals with Hearing Loss

  • Speak in a normal tone of voice. Do not shout; shouting distorts the sound of your voice.
  • Speak clearly and slowly. Don't leave off word endings or mumble, and don't over articulate your words.
  • Stress key words and pause between statements.
  • Use natural gestures and facial expressions. Avoid moving around while you talk.
  • Speak at a distance between three and six feet away from the person.
  • Stand in a well-lit area facing the person.
  • Get the individual's attention and face him or her before you start to speak.
  • Reduce background noise.
  • Ask the individual what will help to make conversations easier.
  • Do not cover your mouth or chew while you speak.
  • Introduce the topic of conversation

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus refers to an auditory perception (sound) in the ear that is not a sound in the environment.  Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing, roaring, hissing or whooshing sound.

The sounds can range from high pitch to low pitch and can vary in loudness.  Tinnitus can be isolated to one ear, both ears, or even to the center of the head.

Tinnitus in NOT an auditory hallucination or an illusion. 

Tinnitus has been related to the following conditions:


Hearing loss Certain medications
Excessive noise exposure Meniere's Disease
High blood pressure In rare cases, a tumor on the auditory nerve
Wax or fluid in the ear  


What exactly causes the sounds in my ears?

There are many possible reasons for tinnitus.  Some of these reasons are:

  • Problems with the little hairs in the inner ear (cochlea)
  • Problems with the functioning of the nerve of hearing (auditory nerve)
  • Inability of the brain to perform normal reduction (inhibition) of a tinnitus sound
What can I do about it?


Schedule appointments to see a medical doctor, preferable an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat physician), and a certified audiologist.

The ENT and the audiologist will combine the results of your medical and hearing evaluations to determine further follow-up.

Depending on the results of your testing, your doctor and audiologist may recommend further diagnostic tests (i.e. MRI, CT scan) or may simply recommend that you pursue treatment for your tinnitus.

What can be done for Tinnitus?


Once it is determined that your tinnitus is not attributed to a treatable medical condition (such as fluid or wax in the ear), you may wish to pursue one of the many tinnitus management options.  Some of these include:

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy
  • Tinnitus maskers
  • Hearing aids (for those with hearing loss)
  • Combination hearing aides/tinnitus maskers
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Counseling
  • Acupuncture
  • Certain medications 

(please note: there is no medication to reduce the tinnitus itself, but some medications may be able to reduce your strong emotional reaction to the tinnitus).

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