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Show Highlights

About 15% of people have tinnitus, at least in the United States. It’s one of the most common medical conditions in the country, but most people don’t think about how to accommodate it. Many people who have it don’t even notice it unless they’re in total silence, which adds a particular challenge to float centers.

Graham and Ashkahn talk about their experiences in floating people with tinnitus and how to approach the situation when and if a float becomes problematic.

Listen to Just the Audio

Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: Today’s questions is, “is it possible to float with tinnitus? I’m worried that the silence would be deafening.”

So for those of you who don’t know what tinnitus is, I guess let’s start there.

Ashkahn: Yeah let’s start there.

Graham: So it’s just the constant ringing in the ears that pretty much never goes away.

Ashkahn: And you know, I’ve talked to people with tinnitus and I’ve offered someone with pretty serious tinnitus our free float to try it out before, so we have kind of accounts from a handful of different people, possibly with different levels of severity to their tinnitus.

Graham: Yes. I guess that’s also worth mentioning is, people just have a wide range of how much ringing they have in their ears from, you know, something that they can maybe only hear in the background if they’re in a place like a float tank where usually there’s just enough ambient noise that it’s unnoticeable, to really extreme, where it’s actually affecting their ability to hear other things going on and is constantly a force in their life they need to deal with.

Ashkahn: And I feel like whether the floating experience is enjoyable for them or not, I guess I think depends a little bit on the kind of severity of your tinnitus, because at least with the person I was talking to before, he was at the point where he had to listen to white noise in headphones to go to sleep at night. Like the tinnitus was enough to just keep him up by itself, just during a normal night’s sleep. And he did not have the most enjoyable float experience. Like he said it was super distracting, he was just in there with it, he couldn’t really get away from it. Like it was, the float could not kind of overcome the tinnitus that he was having.

Graham: Yup, and we have at least three of our team at Float On who have tinnitus as well, kind of in different ranges. One of whom also needs static to go to sleep, and my girlfriend Katheryn has tinnitus and it’s sort of different reports that we’ve heard from different people. Everything from, it’s still very present and it doesn’t go away, and they hear the ringing, but it doesn’t distract them. You know, that it’s no more distracting than every day, to yeah, they actually need to play some static sometimes in the float tank, or need to have music in the float tank to not have to listen to that ringing. But there are ways around it even with that extreme kind of version if you have a tank that you can pipe music into.

Ashkahn: Mm-hmm.

Graham: And one of the more interesting ones I guess is, for Kathryn it ranged anywhere from, I wasn’t a problem and felt very much like day to day distracting, so it was fine for hopping in a float, to actually being distracting. So even within the same person some floats can be good with the tinnitus and some floats can be more challenging, which is interesting.

Ashkahn: Yeah I think it really just … I don’t know, maybe like some days are good and some days are bad even, float tanks aside.

Graham: Yep so here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. If you’re floating someone with tinnitus, let them know that … I mean I would say just be very vocal when they get out about whether or not it was a good float for them or not, and just say there’s been mixed reports. And especially if they get out and you’re not planning on playing some kind of noise or music in there, be sure if they didn’t have a good time, I mean first of all offer them a free float to come try it again and just say, “Hey you might want to try it with some white noise or some music in the background during your float and see if that helps.”

Ashkahn: Yeah or offer to give them their money back if they don’t like it. To me it’s one of those things. It’s like, “Yeah I don’t really know how it’s going to be for you, but if you don’t like it I’ll give you your money back.” That’s what I would say.

Graham: Yeah, yeah. So definitely on the customer service side, it’s very manageable. And I don’t think that tinnitus is any reason to turn anyone away. And because I’m selfishly curious about getting more data, I think you should actively actually try to pursue them and let them know that it’s a little bit of a test and you just want to see how it goes.

Ashkahn: Yeah and I’d be curious of the difference between someone floating with or without the white noise in there. Hopefully the white noise, just like it would if they’re trying to go to sleep or something, would be enough to counteract it.

Graham: Yeah just turn on a pump in a neighboring room you know. That’s all I got.

Ashkahn: Yeah I think that’s it, so yeah let us … have them try it out, tell us how it goes.

Graham: Yeah shoot us an email.

Ashkahn: Mixed reports is I guess the answer for this.

Graham: Yeah. Yeah and if you have your own questions, go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast and shoot them along. Studies have actually shown that it does not matter if you suffer from tinnitus for submitting questions to our website. It’s equally satisfying for everybody.

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