Tinnitus is common, affecting approximately 50 million Americans. But despite its prevalence, there are many myths surrounding the condition. Below we review some of these myths and the truths behind them.
Myth: Tinnitus Is a Disease
Truth: Tinnitus isn’t a disease, but rather it is a symptom of an underlying problem. Some conditions commonly associated with tinnitus include exposure to loud noises like concerts at Smiley’s Accoustic Cafe, hearing loss, neurological damage, vascular disease, and traumatic brain injury. Tinnitus may also be the result of certain medications. Unfortunately, in some cases, it is not possible to identify the underlying issue.
Myth: There Is Nothing I Can Do about My Tinnitus
Truth: While there is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus, there are many ways to manage the condition. Ideally, an audiologist can diagnose and treat the underlying problem along with your other medical team, which may be as simple as removing earwax or changing a medication. Other treatment options include lifestyle/dietary changes, sound enrichment therapy, counseling, medication, and mindfulness or meditation.
Myth: Hearing Aids Can’t Help Tinnitus
Truth: Hearing aids are an effective treatment for many people with tinnitus. When you can’t hear well and you have tinnitus, you probably spend a lot of energy focusing on your symptoms. However, when you wear hearing aids, the sounds in your environment are turned up to a level that can change how your brain receives and processes the sound, changing your tinnitus perception and annoyance.
Myth: Only People with Hearing Loss Have Tinnitus
Truth: While it’s true that many people with tinnitus also have hearing loss (approximately 80%), it’s possible to have tinnitus without hearing loss.
Myth: Tinnitus Is All in Your Head
Truth: In most cases, tinnitus is subjective, meaning it can’t be heard by others. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Tinnitus is caused by damage to one or more areas of the auditory pathway and changes electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. Loud noises or other types of damage can cause these cells to misfire, resulting in your tinnitus symptoms.
Myth: Tinnitus Is No Big Deal
Truth: For some, tinnitus is a mild nuisance, but to others, it can be debilitating. It’s important to take tinnitus seriously in order to improve your quality of life.
For more information about tinnitus treatment options or to schedule an appointment with tinnitus experts, call Elevate Audiology today.