Coping with ringing in the ears can be challenging. Having to deal with misunderstandings and misconceptions about the condition can make it even harder.
But misinformation doesn’t need to get in the way of you getting the help and support you need.
Next time you’re confronted with one of these tinnitus myths, you can be ready to help others understand facts over fiction.
1. Myth: Tinnitus is rare
Nope. Tinnitus (which is the medical term for the perception or sensation of sound “in the ears” when no actual external noise is present) affects more people than the populations of California and Oregon combined (at least 45 million Americans). This makes ringing in the ears one of the most common health conditions in the United States.
2. Myth: Tinnitus is all in your mind
Actually, tinnitus is due to something going on in your ears, which then your brain must adapt to. In fact, some experts believe that tinnitus symptoms may be your brain’s way of trying to make up for missing sound frequencies it is no longer receiving from the auditory system. So, what happened to get this ball rolling? According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is most commonly related to hearing loss, ear injury (damage and loss of the tiny sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear), or a circulatory system disorder.
3. Myth: Tinnitus isn’t a big deal
Sure, for some people, tinnitus can be just mildly annoying. For others, tinnitus can turn out to be temporary. But for many, ringing in the ears is a serious, chronic problem. Two million Americans say that their tinnitus symptoms are so severe that they are unable to function in their daily lives. The American Tinnitus Association indicates that among people reporting tinnitus:
- 20% report the condition is disabling or nearly disabling
- 25% describe tinnitus as “loud”
- 30% say that their tinnitus is either a “moderate” or “very big” problem in their lives
- 36% have near-constant symptoms
- 48-60% report depression
4. Myth: Only older people get tinnitus
While you are more at risk for tinnitus if you are older, a male, in the military, or a smoker, the condition also strikes many women, young people, and non-smokers. One study found that over half the teenagers participating had experienced tinnitus in the previous year. A major cause of ringing in the ears among younger people is exposure to loud noise. People who work in factories, armed services, construction, or the music industry are at particular risk. Crowded places, concerts, sporting events, recreational shooting, and listening to loud music with earbuds can also put ears in danger. The good news is that there are many ways people of all ages can protect their ears to help prevent tinnitus and to help current tinnitus from getting worse. Learn how here.
5. Myth: The only cause of tinnitus is loud noises
Yes, certainly, exposure to loud noises can lead to tinnitus. But there are other things that cause tinnitus, too. The Cleveland Clinic reports that lesser known potential causes of tinnitus include:
- Ear wax build-up.
- Medications including aspirin (at high doses), certain antibiotics, antidepressants, or chemotherapy drugs. (Of course, even if you are experiencing tinnitus, never change your medication regimen or stop taking any of your medications without talking to your doctor first).
- Dental conditions such as TMJ that affect your jaw or teeth.
- Head injuries resulting in biomechanical problems of the head, neck or jaw. (Bad head bonk? Please see a doctor!)
- Other medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease, hypertension, or diabetes. If your ear ringing is new or has changed significantly, it’s recommended you see a physician for check-up and to rule out these or other conditions.
6. Myth: There’s no treatment for tinnitus
There is not yet a cure for tinnitus but there are treatments that can help to make your symptoms more manageable and can also help you to better cope ear ringing. Some hearing aids have a built-in sound generator which produces white or pink noise, or ocean wave sounds. These can help to “mask” tinnitus in the ears and can help you to get habituated to ear ringing so that it no longer bothers you as much. Similarly, Lipo-Flavonoid offers the Sonorest Sleep Tones machine to create a tranquil, soothing environment through sound that can help with relaxation and sleep for individuals suffering from ringing in the ears. Sound therapy is recommended by experts at the Hearing Health Foundation and in the Tinnitus Journal.
And don’t forget, Lipo-Flavonoid is a nutritional supplement that can support ear health. With consistent use as directed, the nutrients in Lipo-Flavonoid have been shown to improve the symptoms of tinnitus in some people.
Lemon bioflavonoids, like those in Lipo-Flavonoid, are thought to help relieve tinnitus symptoms by:
- Improving microcirculation in the inner ear
- Preventing abnormal accumulation of fatty deposits, and
- Blocking histamine production in the inner ear (a likely cause of inner ear disturbances.)