Austin Singleton, Au.D.
Almost everyone has felt a temporary ringing in the ears – and we all know it is annoying. Sadly, for roughly one in six Americans, that annoyance is much more long-lasting. Nearly 50 million people in the U.S. have experienced tinnitus, a condition commonly described as constant ringing, roaring, clicking or buzzing in the ear. Now acknowledged as a potential side effect of COVID-19, that number is expected to rise.
In short, tinnitus is likely more pervasive than you think. How do we confront this as part of the health community? Luckily, tinnitus can be treatable with access to hearing health benefits. Health plans can help reduce the number of sufferers by providing those benefits and increasing member education, ultimately leading to healthier outcomes long term. Among the many reasons why addressing common audiological issues is important, here are some of the most compelling.
Side Effects Might Be More Harmful Than You Think
Those experiencing tinnitus might describe the sensation as irritating or distracting. Though certainly true, audiological issues often trigger more than just a personal annoyance. Depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and poor concentration are common side effects of tinnitus – and sufferers may not even notice the correlation. Social connection and workplace productivity typically diminish, too, which can impact both professional career growth and personal wellbeing. Providing treatment for tinnitus to prevent members from letting the issue linger is an important consideration, and one that can lead to improved wellness and plan satisfaction.
Solutions Are Available and Affordable
Dozens of possible causes for tinnitus exist, including hearing loss, ear and sinus infections, heart disease, hormonal changes and even buildup of earwax. As tinnitus can present itself in a number of ways, approximately 15% of the public has struggled with this false and uncomfortable perception of sound. Sufferers often don’t realize that a simple solution like hearing aids can actually work to reduce the sensation, as certain devices have programs designed to mask the sounds with white noise. A trained provider can help mitigate individual concerns by adjusting the programs to focus on specific frequencies that match the patient’s symptoms. Though hearing aids aren’t the perfect solution for everyone, offering access to an affordable hearing health plan can lower costs and increase the likelihood that members seek help. In general, encouraging medical consultation through available benefits could be life changing for many.
Those with hearing concerns often avoid taking action to confront concerns like tinnitus due to lack of awareness, inaccessibility and fear of appearing old or disabled. However, people become more likely to start contemplating and researching solutions if they know that benefits are available to them. If you offer a hearing health plan like TruHearing, you can point clients and their members to plan resources for more information, while reducing any financial barriers to treatment. Prioritizing hearing health and promoting member education can benefit customers, employees and product managers alike.