If you have ever experienced tinnitus, you will know that it can really get in the way of you getting through your day comfortably. For those who haven’t ever experienced it, tinnitus is the perception of sound in your ears without an outside source being responsible, typically characterized as a “ringing”.

There are a couple of misconceptions about tinnitus, but there are 4 specific myths we will be busting.While there is no wonder cure for the condition, living with tinnitus does not have to be doom and gloom, it is possible to find ways to manage your experience. 

Tinnitus is always characterized by a ringing sound in the ears

The first myth about tinnitus is that ringing in the ears is the only sound that people with tinnitus hear. The truth is, there are many different types of tinnitus, each of which can be unique to the way a person perceives sound. The sounds can be continuous or intermittent and can also be wide-ranging, anything from buzzing, hissing, or whooshing, to pulsing, and even music.

For example, with “tonal tinnitus”, the sound is almost continuous or overlapping and at clear frequencies, where the volume often oscillates between louder and softer sounds. “Pulsatile tinnitus” gives the perception of pulsing sounds, which can be in sync with the heartbeat of the person experiencing it. 

Pulsatile tinnitus may point to a vascular issue, which is often treatable. “Musical tinnitus” is the perception of hearing music or singing, sometimes the same tune over and over. It is also called “musical ear syndrome” and it is a rare form of tinnitus.

Tinnitus is permanent and chronic

The second myth about tinnitus is that it is a permanent, chronic illness and that nothing can be done to lessen the effects. Believing this might make a person feel quite despondent, and even desperate. The truth is that tinnitus is not a disease and (in some cases) may even be temporary.

Although tinnitus can be a symptom or indication of another underlying medical condition, in most cases it is the result of damage to the inner part of the ear. The inner ear is a small space within the bone of the ear, that contains the apparatus controlling hearing and balance. Damage to the part of the ear that affects hearing can be the result of aging, an injury to the ear, or diabetes.

It’s always best to visit your doctor or hearing health professional to find out what the root cause of your tinnitus is. This will help them understand your tinnitus  better, in order to help you find solutions that can make your symptoms less severe. In the case of chronic tinnitus, for example when it is the result of age-related hearing loss, a hearing health professional is the best person to offer you solutions that will help to reduce or relieve your symptoms.

They can also offer advice on making sure you follow a healthy diet. While there is little evidence that specific foods can eliminate tinnitus, some researchers have suggested that caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, unhealthy fats, and low intake of fruit and vegetables can make it worse. If you experience stress because of your tinnitus, eating healthily can improve your overall well-being, including your mental and emotional well-being and along with that, your ability to manage stress.

Only people who are losing their hearing get tinnitus 

The third myth is that only people who are losing their hearing are affected by tinnitus. While hearing loss and tinnitus often occur together,  it is not true that it only affects people who have some form of hearing loss. The tinnitus that you are experiencing might not correlate at all with any hearing loss but it is best to consult with a hearing healhcare professional if you are worried. 

 Hearing aids do nothing for tinnitus

When it comes to tinnitus, you might believe that hearing aids will not be able to help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus. The good news is that technological advances in hearing aids can address tinnitus symptoms for people who also have hearing loss. If you start losing your hearing, the reality is that you will be hearing fewer sounds around you. In turn, this would mean that there is less perceived sound in your environment to mask the symptoms of tinnitus. 

By increasing the volume of sounds and noise around you with hearing aids to levels you experienced before your hearing loss, you’re less likely to be aware of, or bothered, by the tinnitus. In addition, some hearing even aids have built-in white noise and soothing sounds to provide relief from tinnitus.

When Should You Visit a Hearing Health Professional About Your Tinnitus?

Many people who have tinnitus say that it has hardly any impact on their life. They’re aware of it, but it doesn’t bother them, while others might find it harder to deal with. If you are struggling with tinnitus, whether it is temporary or chronic, understand that there are ways to manage it and lessen the impact it has on your quality of life. 

Make an appointment with a hearing health professional or audiologist to find out how you can take control of your experience of tinnitus. If you have pulsatile or rhythmic tinnitus, please consult a doctor for a medical opinion and appropriate treatment if necessary.

Written by Robert De Wit

Find similar articles

Hearing Health

Blog Recommendations