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The Mike Malusevic Interview (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Mike Malusevic
Executive Director - American Tinnitus Association (ATA)

Mike Malusevic: The first step is to acknowledge that it’s real, and that is a huge step for some people. Because once they open the door to acknowledging that it’s real, then they can start trying to get some help for it. But, before that, they’re just very frustrated.

The second thing I think you could do is just understand that it’s stressful to the person with tinnitus. They’re hearing this sound that no one else is hearing and you might be trying to communicate with them. You might be trying to do something with them and they’re very focused on the irritating sound. And it can be very stressful and it can change someone’s mood infinitely. So if you understand that, then you can work on ways around it or ways to help that person.

You don’t want someone with tinnitus in a completely noisy environment; but on the other hand, you don’t want to be in an environment that’s completely and totally quiet, because then all they hear is that sound and they’re focusing on it.

One of the biggest problems that patients tell us they have is going to sleep at night because all they’re hearing is that sound. That’s when the masking aspect to tinnitus comes into play. There are all sorts of different sounds you can have playing in the background that can cancel that sound out and kind of help them sleep. Our Web site, www.ata.org, has so much information to help your loved one deal with tinnitus.

Gary Barg: What is the one most important piece of information that you would like to share with a family caregiver about dealing with tinnitus?

Mike Malusevic: The most important thing is to take a little time to understand the condition, so you can tailor your caregiving skills to the needs of that person. They’re misunderstood and in a scary place. But, if you have knowledge of it and you can create an environment that will help them, it will help you give better care. It will take down their stress level. And if you can reduce their stress by understanding and creating this environment, then you can do a lot for them.

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