Tinnitus – the perception of sound when no actual sound is present – is a condition that affects 50 million Americans. Some people develop acute tinnitus as a result of an illness, medication or being exposed to loud music. Other people have chronic tinnitus, and live with that internal noise every day.
It is likely you know someone who has tinnitus – you may even be living with it yourself. Here we will separate fact from fiction, so you can understand exactly what someone with tinnitus is dealing with.
Myth 1: Tinnitus is a disease, and there is no cure
Tinnitus is not a disease, but it could be the result of an underlying medical condition. Traumatic brain injuries, vascular disease, or exposure to loud noises can all lead to tinnitus. Some people develop tinnitus as a reaction to certain medications (called ototoxic medications). And while there is no “cure” for tinnitus, there are various treatment options that can make tinnitus manageable and easier to live with.
Myth 2: There is no help for tinnitus
This myth is absolutely false. Sound therapy, hearing aids and counseling are used to alleviate tinnitus and effectively manage its symptoms. An experienced audiologist can work with you to find the best treatments to minimize your symptoms so your condition becomes manageable. And if your tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical condition or a reaction to medication, an audiologist or other healthcare professional can help by finding the cause of the tinnitus, and maybe even eliminate it.
Myth 3: If it’s not “ringing in the ears”, it’s not tinnitus.
While ringing is the most common sound reported by those who experience tinnitus, it can also be a buzzing, humming, whooshing or whistling. Tinnitus sounds can vary from person to person, and also from day to day within the same person.
Myth 4: If you have tinnitus, you have hearing loss.
Around 90% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, but you can experience tinnitus without any hearing loss at all. People exposed to loud sounds like a concert or an explosion may suffer from tinnitus temporarily, and medications and other medical conditions can cause tinnitus with no associated hearing loss. If you have tinnitus but aren’t sure if your hearing is impaired, it is best to get a hearing screening from an experienced audiologist to determine if hearing loss is present, and what are the best solutions for you.
Myth 5: Hearing aids won’t help tinnitus.
Research by the Better Hearing Institute found that:
- 66% of people who wore hearing aids said that it alleviated their tinnitus most of the time, and
- 30% of people said that hearing aids alleviated their tinnitus all of the time.
Advanced hearing aid technology helps alleviate tinnitus by selectively increasing the volume of external noise, thereby masking the sound of the tinnitus coming from within.
The truth is that tinnitus is sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent, and completely manageable for most people. If you have tinnitus, make an appointment to speak to an experienced audiologist about your condition. Treatments are available, and your audiologist will find the best solution for you.