If you’ve ever experienced a persistent ringing, whistling, hissing, or buzzing sound in your ears, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15% of the general public (over 50 million Americans) experience some form of tinnitus. And while the issue can affect everything from your work life to your social life and more, it’s important to understand the facts behind the condition in order to effectively seek potential treatments and solutions. Here are just a few of the common myths you may hear about tinnitus.

The one and only cause of tinnitus is long-term exposure to loud music

This may seem logical, since the symptoms of tinnitus can manifest themselves after attending a loud concert or otherwise being exposed to loud music or sounds, it isn’t the only cause of the condition. While 15% of Americans (26 million) between the ages of 20 and 69 do have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds, tinnitus can occur in people of various ages, genders, races, healthiness levels, and more. Most of the time, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause. The bottom line is that avoiding loud music and earbuds doesn’t make you immune from developing the condition.

Tinnitus causes deafness

This is another common myth, but it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. This means that hearing loss and tinnitus can and often do coexist as completely separate issues. If you’re suffering from any type of hearing impairment, chances are that there’s a hearing device that can help. This is especially true is you suffer from multiple types of hearing impairment; visit an audiologist for a tinnitus exam if you feel like you’re experiencing prolonged symptoms.

Changing my diet can cure my tinnitus

Finally, this myth is a bit ridiculous, but it’s out there. While maintaining a healthy diet can certainly improve overall physical health, it’s not exactly the right treatment or cure for an auditory issue like tinnitus. Keep in mind that some experts say alcohol, caffeine, and sodium can contribute to tinnitus aggravation, but they aren’t the root cause.

Ultimately, understanding the truth about tinnitus is the key to seeking treatment and improving your quality of life. There’s no reason to suffer in silence; make an appointment with an audiologist today.