This hearing symptom affects 50 million Americans. Are you one of them?

Brandpoint (BPT)

(BPT) – According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus. It’s also the most reported disability among veterans who have returned from active duty.

In addition, the CDC has received several reports during the pandemic that people have experienced tinnitus and other hearing problems after having COVID.

Because of the rising prevalence of tinnitus, it’s important to know what it is and how it manifests. There are plenty of misconceptions about tinnitus. Below are seven myths and the truth behind this symptom.

Myth 1: Everyone with tinnitus hears ringing

Tinnitus is commonly portrayed as ringing in the ear that no one else can hear. While some people do hear ringing, everyone experiences tinnitus differently.

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), someone with tinnitus might hear static, buzzing, hissing, clicking or pulsing. Some people may hear multiple sounds, and the pitch and loudness vary from person to person.

Myth 2: Tinnitus is a disease

Tinnitus is not a disease, disorder or condition. It is a symptom that damage or change has occurred in the ear. The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss, but it’s not the only one. According to the ATA, common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Ear blockage
  • Head and neck trauma
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Sinus pressure
  • Medications

Myth 3: Only older folks experience tinnitus

According to a survey by the CDC, almost 20% of people in their 20s experience some form of hearing loss and may not be aware of it. Because hearing loss is one of the leading causes of tinnitus, young people should be mindful of what can affect their hearing long term.

Myth 4: Tinnitus isn’t treatable

Tinnitus is treatable, and many people manage tinnitus with a combination of treatments. Because tinnitus is often connected to how the brain processes sound, sound therapies can help reduce the effects of tinnitus.

White noise machines can mask the sound of tinnitus, allowing you to relax or concentrate on tasks. However, it can be difficult to always have a white noise machine on hand. That’s why many people may use hearing aids to mask tinnitus sounds by amplifying external noises.

According to leading tinnitus expert Dr. Julie Prutsman, “Hearing aids have long been an effective treatment for tinnitus, but not all hearing aids are the same. An invisible hearing aid like the Phonak Lyric sits close to the eardrum and utilizes the natural ear anatomy to process sound. It can be worn all day, every day for months at a time and has been clinically proven to provide relief in some patients with tinnitus and hearing loss.”

Myth 5: Tinnitus isn’t a big deal

Tinnitus can be an early indicator of several health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus can be related to the following conditions:

  • Changes in the ear bone
  • Muscle spasms in the inner ear
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Blood vessel disorders

If you’re experiencing tinnitus, don’t ignore it. Talk with your doctor, and you may be able to catch a serious health condition before it becomes more severe.

Myth 6: You can’t prevent tinnitus

While anyone can experience tinnitus, you can reduce your risk with some lifestyle changes. If you’re in a job or environment where you can’t avoid loud noises, remember to always use hearing protection. For music lovers, be sure that you and your children are not listening to music at high volume—especially when wearing earbuds or headphones. If you love going to concerts, bring a pair of earplugs so you can enjoy the show and preserve your hearing.

Myth 7: Tinnitus only affects your hearing

Tinnitus can affect every facet of your life. Many people experiencing tinnitus report it negatively impacts their ability to do work, relax and socialize. Tinnitus can make you feel isolated from the world around you, including your family and friends, which can severely impact your mental health.

If you’re experiencing tinnitus, don’t ignore it. Visit a hearing care professional for a hearing evaluation. They can help diagnose you, investigate any causes or related symptoms and help you decide what treatment best suits your needs.