According to the US Center for Disease Control, 15 percent of the public experience tinnitus, or ringing in their ears, which means 50 million Americans suffer. 20 million of that total has chronic tinnitus, and the disease completely debilitates 2 million more. If you experience symptoms you believe to be associated with tinnitus, talk to your doctor who can answer any specific questions about your case and the greater topic of tinnitus. Here are just a few myths to debunk to begin understanding.
Myth 1: Tinnitus cannot be cured, and there are no treatments.
While there are no guaranteed cures for tinnitus, there are several treatments that can help. The right pair of hearing aids may diminish pain, and a background sound machine can help lessen the silence that triggers ringing. Drugs like amitriptyline, nortriptyline, Niravam, and Xanax can also diminish ear ringing. Due to their habit-forming qualities and potential for side effects, patients can also test more natural remedies like acupuncture or hypnosis.
Myth 2: Hearing loss and tinnitus are the same ailment.
Many who experience tinnitus also experience hearing loss, but the same is not true of the reverse. Hearing loss operates independently outside of tinnitus, and while neither ailment causes the other, though both have similar causes and treatments. Tinnitus may occur constantly throughout the day, or can randomly occur in increments over time. Hearing loss tends to worsen over time if not treated, and occurs every minute of every day. Tinnitus commonly causes ear ringing, buzzing, and humming as opposed to muffled sounds with hearing loss. Hearing loss is also easier than tinnitus to detect through a simple hearing test.
Myth 3: The only cause of tinnitus is listening to music too loudly.
The major cause of tinnitus is overexposure to loud sounds over an extended period time. Things like cranking up the volume in ear buds or working on a factory floor without ear protection are major causes, but tinnitus can also be caused by blockages in the ear canal, such as a build-up of earwax or ear infection. It can also occur after an injury to the head or neck or after exposure to one loud, sudden sound. For a small group, tinnitus is merely a symptom of a larger underlying problem requiring treatment. Things like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and turbulent blood flow can cause damage to blood vessels, resulting in tinnitus. Additionally, certain medications for other diseases could result in tinnitus as a side effect.
Myth 4: There is no such thing as tinnitus; it’s an imaginative disease that exists only in the minds of its sufferers.
There are many varieties of tinnitus, ranging from mild to severe and temporary to chronic. Unfortunately, there is no test your doctor can give you to prove you have the ailment, so it cannot be a defined without a discussion of symptoms. However, there is no need to suffer alone when there are plenty of resources and remedies. The first step is speaking with a professional about your symptoms.