Approximately one out of every five people in Katy and across Texas experiences tinnitus. This ringing in the ears can range from a minor nuisance that is only noticed occasionally to a constant distraction that interferes with all aspects of daily life. Regardless of where you land on the spectrum, odds are you have heard some things about tinnitus that simply aren’t true. It’s time to dispel some myths.
Tinnitus: Myth vs. Fact
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual sound is present. It affects some 50 million Americans, making it one of the most common health complaints in the United States. Considering its effects are so far-reaching, there is a fairly widespread lack of knowledge about tinnitus.
Here are some of the most common tinnitus myths your audiologist would like you to know are not true:
- Tinnitus is a disease. Actually, tinnitus isn’t a medical condition at all, but rather a symptom of another underlying disease. There are many possible causes including hearing loss, head trauma, vascular disease, neurological damage, ototoxic medications, and even excess earwax.
- There’s nothing I can do to treat tinnitus. While there is no cure for tinnitus, your audiologist can suggest an effective tinnitus treatment to help manage your symptoms and reduce its effects on your daily life. Effective treatments include sound therapy masking techniques, counseling, and relaxation exercises.
- Gingko biloba will make my tinnitus go away. Many claims have been made about the effectiveness of dietary and lifestyle changes, but there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that taking gingko biloba (or zinc, or vitamin C) helps reduce your symptoms. True, reducing your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and sodium may provide a little relief, but it takes more than that to provide real relief.
- I won’t get tinnitus if my hearing is fine. People with hearing loss are more likely to develop tinnitus, but that doesn’t mean you are immune if your hearing is fine. Noise exposure, medical conditions and certain medications – particularly loop diuretics and chemotherapy drugs – can all cause tinnitus in persons with otherwise normal hearing.
- Tinnitus only presents as a ringing in the ears. People with tinnitus report a variety of phantom sounds including hissing, buzzing, whooshing, roaring, whistling, and clicking noises.
- Tinnitus isn’t real – it’s only in your head. Tinnitus may not show up on any sort of diagnostic test, but as millions of people worldwide will attest, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. And though rare, occasional cases of objective tinnitus – in which another individual, such as a medical professional, can hear the noises – do occur.
- Tinnitus will lead to deafness. As stated above, hearing loss and tinnitus are separate and can occur independently of one another. The factors contributing to your tinnitus might not be physical in nature at all, and even if they are, hearing aids can help.
- Hearing aids won’t help tinnitus. Actually, hearing aids can be quite effective in the treatment of tinnitus. They allow you to boost the volume in order to cover up the ringing in your ears when it’s quite (especially useful when trying to sleep) and turn it down in situations where excess noise is contributing to tinnitus.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of tinnitus now! Your hearing aid doctor in Katy can help you find relief if you’re one of the many people suffering from symptoms.