Hearing Blog

7 Myths About Tinnitus

Published 23/06/2016
Last Updated 22/10/2020

Tinnitus is probably causing that ringing or buzzing in your ear that doesn’t seem to go away. Maybe your doctor told you that tinnitus can’t be helped – that you’ll just have to deal with it?

Well, tinnitus is a condition that’s annoying at best and debilitating at worse – but there are ways to make it better. Here are some of the misconceptions that we have heard about tinnitus – and the facts you need to know.

MYTH 1: There is nothing I can do about tinnitus.

Many people go to their doctor with complaints about ringing or buzzing in their ears and are told that there is little they can do about it. 

“Tinnitus is just something you will have to deal with,” they say. 

“Try to ignore it.” But the fact is that there is a LOT you can do to lessen the effects of tinnitus.

Here are some proven ways to help decrease the buzzing in your ears:

  • Tinnitus Sound Therapy - An important element in tinnitus treatment is the use of sound. Amplified sound from hearing aids, environmental influences, music, or noise generators can help minimize the contrast between the buzzing or ringing of tinnitus and the surrounding sound environment.
  • Ear Protection – Noise exposure is a leading cause of tinnitus. Wear ear protection when around loud sounds.
  • Tinnitus Counselling – Assessment and counselling with an experienced hearing healthcare professional trained in managing tinnitus can help determine the cause of your tinnitus and minimize the negative impact it may have on your quality of life. The effects of tinnitus can often be lessened by a combination of counselling and sound therapy.
  • ZEN tones in hearing aids - ZEN tones can help you to get relief from tinnitus. ZEN tones are available as an individual program in all of Widex' newer hearing aids. By amplifying natural environmental sounds and the sounds of nature, ZEN tones can make ringing in the ears less prominent.
  • Relaxation exercises – Stress can often make tinnitus worse. Read a book, go for a walk, and practice breathing techniques and relaxation exercises.

Here is an example of a ZEN tone:

MYTH 2: Tinnitus is temporary. It will go away soon.

Some forms of tinnitus are temporary and caused by recent exposure to loud noise. Others are more long-lasting or consist of recurring episodes. Tinnitus affects people in many ways. According to the UK’s National Healthcare System, there are several different “sounds of tinnitus.

These tinnitus sounds include:

  • Mild tinnitus – This form of tinnitus can often be masked by louder sounds. People with mild tinnitus may only notice the ringing or buzzing in their ears when in very quiet surroundings like when trying to sleep or reading a book.
  • High-pitched tinnitus – Most people experience tinnitus as a high-pitched hissing, whistling, or buzzing in their ears. Sometimes these sounds are related to your posture – you may only hear them when you are sitting or lying down, or when you turn your head a certain way.
  • Low-frequency tinnitus – Sometimes tinnitus can be heard as a low-pitched sound like a rumbling.
  • Musical hallucinations – Rarely, tinnitus will manifest itself as a musical hallucination that leaves you hearing a song repeatedly in your head.

MYTH 3: There are pills that will provide a tinnitus cure.

Some companies will try to point you to a miraculous tinnitus cure where a few pills will stop all signs of tinnitus. While much research has been done around the effects of medication and vitamin supplements on tinnitus, there is currently no proven tinnitus cure. Only tinnitus management devices and sound therapy have been proven to decrease the effects of tinnitus.

MYTH 4: Hearing aids can’t help tinnitus.

Hearing aids are one of the most effective ways to beat tinnitus. Widex hearing aids are especially helpful for tinnitus patients because they:

  • Provide maximum amplification for very quiet environments thus reducing the contrast between tinnitus and silence
  • Limit the overall loudness of sound delivered to the ear in noisier environments, which may be critical for people with hearing loss
  • Hearing aids can also come equipped with Widex ZEN, a functionality that plays soothing tones give relief from tinnitus when you need it.

MYTH 5: Tinnitus and hearing loss aren’t linked.

Many people with tinnitus will also have a hearing loss. In fact, a recent French study showed that of 123 people with tinnitus surveyed, only one did not have hearing loss. The British Tinnitus Association estimates that 90 percent of people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss. Moreover, research says that those who don’t may have a “hidden hearing loss.”

MYTH 6: I never listened to loud music, so I won’t get tinnitus.

Noise exposure is one cause of tinnitus – but there are several more.

MYTH 7: Tinnitus is a new condition caused by MP3 players. People didn’t have it in the old days.

Tinnitus has been around for as long as people have been writing things down. A 2004 study says that even people in ancient Egypt made reference to the condition. Other research shows that the great composer Ludwig Van Beethoven had tinnitus.