Nov 26, 2020
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Hey there. I'm starting my first year in med school this upcoming July, and I just had a few questions regarding accommodations.

I developed tinnitus a few months ago without a known cause, and day by day it seems less likely that it'll be going away. It's louder in one ear and changes pitch/volume depending on time of day, what I'm doing, my environment, etc. I have some really bad weeks and some really good weeks, but it's always present.

I was wondering if anyone knew someone who requested accommodations with tinnitus or if me requesting accommodations for tinnitus would be reasonable. I've never registered myself with the disability office or requested accommodations before so I don't know exactly what I'd expect if it were to be approved, but maybe something like a bit of extra time for tests might be beneficial to me. I'm currently in my gap year and I only developed tinnitus during my gap year, so I have no idea how it will affect my studies in the future. I usually study in quiet environments, so having a high-pitched noise blasting in my head 24/7 will surely be something I'll need to learn to overcome when I start studying again. I also sometimes lose focus when I'm reading or doing something that requires me to concentrate because of it.

I understand that accommodations should usually be used for more traditionally "serious" things, but I don't think most people understand how frustrating and sometimes debilitating tinnitus can feel until they experience it themselves. It can get very loud and distracting. It reacts (gets louder/more obnoxious) to certain external sounds and frequencies that I've never even imagined (I think this is called hyperacusis?). From doing a bit of searching on SDN, it seems other people with tinnitus have made it through med school, so I think that this won't be something that'll cause me to fail or anything, but the severity of tinnitus varies from person to person, and as someone not used to studying with this, I'm a bit worried.

Does requesting accommodations for tinnitus sound reasonable? Or will it just get laughed at and not taken seriously?

Thanks for any help.
 

thatchemguy

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Yes, of course it is reasonable. Talk to your student dean about it, but also have documentation ready from seeing your regular doctor.
 
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BacktotheBasics

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Hey there. I'm starting my first year in med school this upcoming July, and I just had a few questions regarding accommodations.

I developed tinnitus a few months ago without a known cause, and day by day it seems less likely that it'll be going away. It's louder in one ear and changes pitch/volume depending on time of day, what I'm doing, my environment, etc. I have some really bad weeks and some really good weeks, but it's always present.

I was wondering if anyone knew someone who requested accommodations with tinnitus or if me requesting accommodations for tinnitus would be reasonable. I've never registered myself with the disability office or requested accommodations before so I don't know exactly what I'd expect if it were to be approved, but maybe something like a bit of extra time for tests might be beneficial to me. I'm currently in my gap year and I only developed tinnitus during my gap year, so I have no idea how it will affect my studies in the future. I usually study in quiet environments, so having a high-pitched noise blasting in my head 24/7 will surely be something I'll need to learn to overcome when I start studying again. I also sometimes lose focus when I'm reading or doing something that requires me to concentrate because of it.

I understand that accommodations should usually be used for more traditionally "serious" things, but I don't think most people understand how frustrating and sometimes debilitating tinnitus can feel until they experience it themselves. It can get very loud and distracting. It reacts (gets louder/more obnoxious) to certain external sounds and frequencies that I've never even imagined (I think this is called hyperacusis?). From doing a bit of searching on SDN, it seems other people with tinnitus have made it through med school, so I think that this won't be something that'll cause me to fail or anything, but the severity of tinnitus varies from person to person, and as someone not used to studying with this, I'm a bit worried.

Does requesting accommodations for tinnitus sound reasonable? Or will it just get laughed at and not taken seriously?

Thanks for any help.
It's a medical condition and is reasonable. Abandon this internal struggle going on in your head. Anyone who "laughs at it" is doing the opposite of what we're all trying to do in medicine.
 
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stickgirl390

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Just commenting to show support. I also have continuous tinnitus. It sucks and definitely is distracting in quieter environments. I’ve never considered looking in to accommodations for it, I hope it works out for you!
 
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candbgirl

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I would never laugh at you. I’ve had vertigo for over a year. It’s awful and unpredictable and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Good luck to you. I hope it improves for you.
 
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I would never laugh at you. I’ve had vertigo for over a year. It’s awful and unpredictable and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Good luck to you. I hope it improves for you.
I don't think it would hurt to get an ENT referral especially with both tinnitus and vertigo symptoms.
 
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Nov 26, 2020
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Yes, of course it is reasonable. Talk to your student dean about it, but also have documentation ready from seeing your regular doctor.

It's a medical condition and is reasonable. Abandon this internal struggle going on in your head. Anyone who "laughs at it" is doing the opposite of what we're all trying to do in medicine.

Just commenting to show support. I also have continuous tinnitus. It sucks and definitely is distracting in quieter environments. I’ve never considered looking in to accommodations for it, I hope it works out for you!

I would never laugh at you. I’ve had vertigo for over a year. It’s awful and unpredictable and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Good luck to you. I hope it improves for you.

I don't think it would hurt to get an ENT referral especially with both tinnitus and vertigo symptoms.


Thank you all for the help. I've already been to like 6 different doctors (including 3 ENTs) regarding this so I definitely have documentation. I'll be sure to contact the appropriate office once I start. Also, thanks for the support. @stickgirl390 and @candbgirl, I really hope it goes away for us eventually :(
 
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Hey there, just wanted to give you a little bit of support here friend. I too have tinnitus, I am now 35 yo pharmacist turned MS1. It actually started when I was 19 yo and still in prepharmacy. While it never really went away, my brain has completely adapted to it and is able to effectively “tune-it-out”. I only notice it when I’m thinking of it.
 
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Nov 26, 2020
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Hey there, just wanted to give you a little bit of support here friend. I too have tinnitus, I am now 35 yo pharmacist turned MS1. It actually started when I was 19 yo and still in prepharmacy. While it never really went away, my brain has completely adapted to it and is able to effectively “tune-it-out”. I only notice it when I’m thinking of it.

Thanks for commenting and showing me more are out there :) I hope to get to that point eventually. Hoping even more that a cure comes out, but yeah. Good luck to the both of us!
 

JP2740

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I have loud tinnitus. Went through school, residency, and fellowship fine. Go to your doctor, find some strategies and rise above it

maybe if you get accommodation ask to listen to music during your test? With a school provided headphones and CD player or something so you can’t cheat
 
Nov 26, 2020
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Just curious, what kind of accommodation are you seeking?

I don't even really know. I don't know exactly how it'll affect my studying/test-taking since I just developed tinnitus a few months ago and I'm in my gap year right now, so I haven't studied in a while. But as of now I can imagine it distracting me while reading (since it distracts me while reading sometimes even now), so maybe a bit of extra test time? Or like the commenter below me said, maybe listening to some sort of music or sound while taking a test to help block the tinnitus out? I'm not sure honestly.

I have loud tinnitus. Went through school, residency, and fellowship fine. Go to your doctor, find some strategies and rise above it

maybe if you get accommodation ask to listen to music during your test? With a school provided headphones and CD player or something so you can’t cheat

It's reassuring to hear that you've gone through it. Listening to music/sounds during a test actually sounds like a good idea. I'll have to get used to taking tests with music though. There's a whole lot I don't know yet - since I'm in my gap year I haven't studied with this tinnitus yet, so I'll have to try to rise above it like you said.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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I have had tinnitus since high school. Mine is a high pitched musical tone, sort of like an old tube TV. I am able to tune it out pretty easily.. Not everyone hears the same thing. Some describe it as a buzzing or clicking. On rare occasions, I have had that and agree its annoying and distracting. I hope you find a way to manage. Good luck and best wishes.
 
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MisterTO

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Hey there, just wanted to give you a little bit of support here friend. I too have tinnitus, I am now 35 yo pharmacist turned MS1. It actually started when I was 19 yo and still in prepharmacy. While it never really went away, my brain has completely adapted to it and is able to effectively “tune-it-out”. I only notice it when I’m thinking of it.
can you PM me?
 

DokterMom

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Echoing the above suggestions that you're absolutely within your rights and perfectly reasonable to seek accommodations for your tinnitus. A few suggestions:
  • The process of seeking/securing accommodations takes a fairly long time, so since you've been admitted and have documentation, start your efforts now. Contact the office that handles students with disabilities for your school and talk to them. Find out what documentation they need and what the process is.
  • Do some research as to what accommodations will help you:
    • Research what accommodations others have found helpful.
    • Actually try those things on your own now under simulated studying and test-taking conditions. See what helps you and what doesn't.
    • Sure, extra time sounds nice. But why is that necessary or appropriate? (It might be, but that's one I would want to see well-substantiated, otherwise, it's actually giving you an unfair advantage.)
    • Noise-cancelling headphones or a white noise machine? If it works and helps you, that's an easy accommodation with a lot of on-the-face-of-it applicability. But investigate ways you could make such an arrangement work securely in test scenarios.
    • Testing in a quiet room? That's not an uncommon request, and it's one that's easily accommodated.
    • Preferential seating in labs and lectures? Also not an uncommon request that's easily accommodated.
Best of luck to you. Hopefully it resolves as mysteriously as it appears...
 
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