The Dos & Don’ts of Tinnitus – Understanding the Risks
According to the American Tinnitus Association, approximately 50 million people in America suffer from tinnitus. Anyone can get tinnitus, whether it’s due to loud noise exposure or just natural aging. Therefore, it’s important to understand the Dos and Don’ts of tinnitus so you can better protect yourself and know what you’re dealing with.
Do realize that not everyone experiences tinnitus in the same way
Diagnosing tinnitus can be difficult since every person experiences it in different ways. While common symptoms include hearing sounds that are not present, these can widely vary, including ringing, buzzing, whistling, and roaring.
Do be extra cautious if you’ve ever served in the military
More than 34% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from tinnitus. More startling is that tinnitus is the most prominent service-connected disability for veterans and has been increasing by at least 15% every year since 2005. Thus, if you’re experiencing any tinnitus symptoms, visit your hearing care professional right away.
Do realize that anyone can experience tinnitus
While certain factors may increase your risks – such as loud noise exposure, age, smoking or cardiovascular problems – realize that anyone can get tinnitus, at anytime. No one is immune to it.
Do make an appointment to see a hearing care professional
If you’re experiencing any ringing, buzzing or any other tinnitus symptoms, set up an appointment with an audiologist right away. Prior to your appointment, list out your symptoms, any medications you’re taking and how long you’ve been experiencing the symptoms for.
Do know that there are effective treatments out there
Realize that there is help. While it’s true that there is no cure (yet) for tinnitus, new treatments and devices are available to treat various degrees of tinnitus, including severe forms. Your audiologist can help determine if you have tinnitus and what treatments are appropriate for you.
Don’t dismiss your work environment
If you work in a noisy environment, such as with power tools or loud machinery, you are at a greater risk of developing tinnitus. Thus, it’s important to take preventative measures to minimize your risk, including wearing ear plugs and ear muffs.
Don’t listen to loud music
While listening to music, make sure to turn down the volume. Listening to loud music over an extended period of time increases your chances of damaging your ears. DJs, audio engineers and performers are at a higher risk of tinnitus.
Don’t believe the myths
It’s unfortunate, but tinnitus is still very misunderstood. As a result, there are many myths surrounding it. Some of the common tinnitus myths include it’s a disease (it’s actually a symptom) and that it causes hearing loss (also false).
Don’t discount warning signs
While no one can guarantee you won’t get tinnitus, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks. This includes paying attention to warning signs, such as if you hear ringing, buzzing or whistling.
Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of factors, including loud noise exposure, aging, negative reactions to medication and even nerve damage. While there are people at higher risk, anyone can develop tinnitus. If you’re experiencing any symptoms, see a hearing care professional as soon as possible. They are properly trained to diagnose tinnitus and create a treatment plan that’s right for you.