Many people, especially students and teachers at City and Country, are clueless when it comes to asking what earworms and tinnitus are. “Are they like tapeworms in your ear? And isn’t tinnitus a disease?” replied Daisy Kenyon-Bishop, a XIII. Actually, an earworm is the name of when a song gets stuck in your head, and tinnitus is a medical condition where you have an ongoing ringing in your ear. But, are they related?
According to Newsela, “Earworms tends to be this little fragment, often a bit of the chorus of the song, that just plays and replays like it’s stuck on loop in your head.” This is why many people may find them annoying. However, earworms are nothing compared to tinnitus.
The definition of tinnitus from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “a sensation of noise (such as a ringing or roaring) that is typically caused by a bodily condition (such as a disturbance of the auditory nerve or wax in the ear) and usually is of the subjective form which can only be heard by the one affected.” Does an earworm still seem annoying to you?
In addition, tinnitus is incurable. Many of the people who have tinnitus actually started with a hearing loss due to injury or age that led to the roaring painful noise that they have now. But luckily, only 15% out of 50 million people get tinnitus, so do not worry.
Also, earworms are pretty easy to get rid of. The best way to forget about that certain song is to distract yourself with another activity and let the song finish in your head. But tinnitus is incurable. Many people suggest that if you have tinnitus you should listen to soft remedies, or try to not be very stressed out. All of those may work but to only lessen the pain.
According to the National Institute of Deafness, “The limbic system—a linked network of brain structures involved in emotion, behavior, and long-term memory—acts as a gatekeeper to keep the tinnitus signal from reaching the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that mediates our conscious perception of sounds. In people with tinnitus, they suggest, the gate has broken.”
However, earworms are much simpler. When we listen to a song, it triggers a part of the brain called the auditory cortex. The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that memorizes and listens. An example of what is holds can be language switching such as knowing and listening to english and spanish.
Now that you know what earworms and tinnitus are, you may be wondering if they are related? Scientists have not discovered any indication that tinnitus and earworms are related. Although it may seem likely that they are at least using the same parts of the brain, the auditory cortex and the limbic system are completely different. Therefore, next time you have an earworm and are thinking about how annoying it is, be thankful it’s just a temporary song in your head and is nothing like tinnitus.