If there was an internet class in school, the first thing they’d teach you is that you can’t believe everything you read on the web. For example, there’s an awful lot of misinformation about tinnitus floating around these days. And that’s unfortunate because good and accurate information can help you diminish symptoms and improve your outlook.
Inaccurate information can, in some worst-case scenarios, damage your hearing and make your tinnitus worse. So today we’re putting on our “myth-smashing” hats (we don’t know for sure, but we assume that “myth-busting” is trademarked or something, even if it is catchier) and clearing the air about tinnitus.
Common Tinnitus Myths & Misunderstandings
Well, if you have tinnitus, you’ve probably been hearing a distinct buzzing or ringing sound. But you’ve also probably started doing a significant amount of internet research. And during that research, you might have come across these statements.
Tinnitus Is Only Temporary
That’s true… sort of. Some forms of tinnitus are indeed temporary. When you leave a loud music concert, for example, ringing might persist for a day or two. But for many people, tinnitus becomes more permanent over the years (usually in direct correlation to the amount of noise damage your ears have absorbed over the years). Chronic tinnitus is relatively common–and named so because it is effectively permanent.
So, in some cases, tinnitus can be short-lived. But in many cases, tinnitus is a chronic condition that must be treated and managed.
The Right Prescription Can Cure My Tinnitus
That’s not true. At all. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, prescription-based, or otherwise. Sure, researchers are looking into gene therapies and innovative treatments, but those possible cures are still years away from significant breakthroughs (and years further from testing and approval). But that doesn’t mean that tinnitus is untreatable. Speaking of which, you may have read that….
Tinnitus Is Untreatable
This is false. There are many available treatments for tinnitus. And that’s important because you wouldn’t be the first person to feel as though tinnitus is untreatable, especially in the initial phases of your experience. But treatments for tinnitus can help you tune out sounds and manage noise levels, improving your quality of life, and diminishing your noticeable symptoms. Tinnitus treatments might include:
- Noise suppression.
- Retraining therapies.
- Hearing aids.
- Prescription medications (to help with symptoms, not as a “cure”).
- The use of “masking devices,” which are intended to cancel out tinnitus-related sounds.
Hearing Aids Can’t Help
This is false. Hearing aids can be a vital part of tinnitus treatment routines. There are multiple ways that hearing aids can help you, especially if the tinnitus is a sign of hearing loss. Hearing aids can also help you mask the ringing.
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Are Linked
This is true. There is a connection between hearing loss and tinnitus, although that connection is not all-encompassing. It is common for a person to develop tinnitus and hearing loss at the same time. But it’s also possible to develop chronic tinnitus without having any noticeable hearing loss. Tinnitus and hearing loss are often linked because they often have the same root cause: damage due to repeated exposure to loud noise.
Noise Exposure Is the Primary Cause of Tinnitus
This is mostly true. Exposure to loud noises–from your blaring headphones to the roar of the city streets to the growl of your lawnmower–can damage your hearing and cause tinnitus. The best way to prevent tinnitus is to protect your ears from exposure to loud noises (usually this means earplugs or earmuffs). But noise is not the only cause of tinnitus–these symptoms can, less commonly, develop for other reasons such as high blood pressure.
The More You Know About Tinnitus…
Finding reliable information on the internet can be… a challenge (to put it mildly). But knowing fact from fiction is essential. The more accurate your information, the better you’ll be able to make decisions that impact your long-term hearing strength.
You shouldn’t believe everything you hear when it comes to tinnitus. So be sure to check with your hearing specialist if you have questions, especially if you’re trying to combat some rather dubious factoids on the internet.
The more you know, the more sound your decisions can be (usually).