If you are one of the millions of people in the world that has tinnitus, you know it can impact everything from your work to your family and social life. That constant ringing in the ears can also lead to stress and depression.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual sound is present. For many, tinnitus is characterized by ringing in the ears, but it can also manifest itself in different sounds such as whistling, buzzing or hissing.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus sufferers in the United States number in the millions, with the CDC estimating that almost 15 percent of people have tinnitus to some degree. And with so many people suffering from tinnitus, it is more important than ever to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about tinnitus can give you the best chance to effectively approach the condition and reduce the symptoms in order to improve your quality of life.
Myth: Tinnitus is an incurable disease
This is not completely true. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but is sometimes the result of any number of underlying medical conditions. Loud noise, neurological damage, vascular disease, or even traumatic brain injury are just some examples of health issues that can contribute to tinnitus. Tinnitus can also develop as a reaction to certain medications. And while it is true that there is no “cure,” there are treatments available that will lessen the symptoms and make tinnitus easier to live with.
Myth: I can just change my diet and my tinnitus will go away
While some feel that certain additives and foods such as alcohol, sodium and caffeine can aggravate tinnitus, they are not usually the root cause. It is always important to overall health to eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, but tinnitus needs to be addressed separately. Tinnitus management strategies can include dietary and lifestyle changes, but these alone won’t “cure” tinnitus.
Myth: There is nothing I can do about tinnitus
There is something you can do! Research into tinnitus is ongoing, and treatments are constantly evolving and improving. Whether your tinnitus is mild, moderate or severe, a hearing healthcare professional can offer solutions and treatments to help lessen the symptoms and make your condition more manageable. In addition, other health care professionals can diagnose and address the health issues that might be causing the tinnitus in the first place.
Myth: Only those with hearing loss get tinnitus
Yes, those with hearing loss can also get tinnitus, and they are often related. But it is also possible to get tinnitus without having hearing loss. If you are exposed to very loud noise, such as a rock concert or an explosion, you might experience temporary ringing in the ears. And certain other medical conditions or use of medications can cause tinnitus as well. Even if you don’t think you have hearing loss, it is still worth getting checked out by a hearing healthcare professional.