There are many myths and misconceptions about how tinnitus can affect a person, what causes tinnitus and how tinnitus can be improved. Let’s look at the top five myths about tinnitus, and identify the truths behind them. 

Tinnitus is only caused by loud noise exposure

The most common misconception about tinnitus is that it is simply caused by exposure to loud noises. While tinnitus is most often caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises that can damage or kill the hair cells in your ears, it is not the only reason that tinnitus occurs. 

Other causes of tinnitus include medication side effects, earwax build-up, hearing loss, neurological disorders, health issues such as anemia, nasal congestion due to allergies and fibromyalgia. 

  • Medications that may attribute to tinnitus include the following: 
  • Aspirin and NSAID medications
  • Some antibiotics including erythromycin, ciprofloxacin and tetracycline.  
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Medications including quinine and chloroquine used to treat malaria
  • Diuretics and water pills
  • Specific anticonvulsants
  • Some cancer medications

If you experience any level of hearing loss, the brain may cause you to experience tinnitus. It is essentially the brains way of making up for the loss of sound that it expects to hear. Since earwax impaction can lead to temporary hearing loss, it can lead to tinnitus as well. Earwax impaction is easily remedied by an audiologist and can improve tinnitus almost immediately. If you are experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus may be able to be corrected or improved with the use of hearing aids. 

Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus

As mentioned above, hearing loss often leads to tinnitus. Because of this, improving hearing loss with the help of hearing aids can be one way that tinnitus may be reduced. Another way that hearing aids can combat tinnitus is by bringing other sounds out more clearly, which has the effect of covering up tinnitus slightly. 

On average, 60% of patients that use hearing aids have an improvement in their tinnitus as well, with some noting their tinnitus had completely disappeared. 

There is no treatment for tinnitus

Because tinnitus is a symptom, rather than a disease, many people assume there are no treatment or management options for tinnitus. Since many people believe that tinnitus is temporary, there is a school of thought that simply waiting it out is the ideal solution to improving the ringing in your ears. 

There are various treatment options for tinnitus though. If your tinnitus is caused by medication, your doctor may switch you to another option if it is affecting you more than the benefits correlated with the medication. Many times, the medications associated with tinnitus are for short-term use and tinnitus will in fact improve after the medication is no longer taken. 

Hearing aids can greatly improve tinnitus when it is associated with hearing loss, as discussed in the previous myth-bust. 

While there is no direct cure for tinnitus, there are management options for it. Some include using white noise machines to distract from the tinnitus sounds, while others are straight-forward such as earwax impaction removal. 

There are some theories that specific anti-anxiety medications may reduce the sounds of tinnitus, but there is limited evidence that supports this theory. Since tinnitus often is most obvious to the person when they are going to sleep due to the lack of outside noise, these anti-anxiety medications may in fact simply make the person drowsy enough to fall asleep. 

Tinnitus is temporary

Since many people do experience temporary tinnitus after exposure to loud noises such as concerts, mowing the lawn, or similar activities, there is a common myth all tinnitus is temporary. Since hearing loss often contributes to tinnitus, it can be a life-long symptom or issue.  While there are some treatments as discussed in the previous point, there is no absolute cure for it at this time. If you are experiencing tinnitus for more than several days, make an appointment to see an audiologist to schedule a hearing test and see what options are available to manage your tinnitus better. 

Tinnitus only manifests as a high-pitched ringing

There are multiple ways that tinnitus can be heard. This ranges from high-pitched bells ringing to humming or the sound of whooshing. Other tinnitus sounds may be low pitched sounds or even clicking. The reason behind all these sounds vary, but the most common reason is that your brain attempts to fill in the frequency that is lost. For example, high-pitched tinnitus is often caused when hearing loss affects higher-pitched frequencies but not lower-pitched ones. 

Reasons for humming are often attributed to health issues linked to circulatory issues, while TMJ disorder may contribute to a sound of clicking in the ears. 

If you are experiencing tinnitus and would like to see what options you have to manage it, you can learn more at Grusecki Audiology & Hearing Aid Services by calling today at 623-583-1737.