In the movies, invisibility is a formidable power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effective and, frequently, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health disorders, regrettably, are just as potent and a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for instance, is a very common condition that impacts the ears. Regardless of how well you may look, there are no outward symptoms.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant impact on people who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (somewhere around 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t actually there.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Sure, it can be somewhat irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The difficulty is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. In other cases, you might never truly know. Here are some general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very common. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to steer clear of overly loud settings (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a big part of the equation here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the result of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to address this.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears could begin to ring.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally subside.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some swelling. This inflammation can cause tinnitus.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treating it may become simpler. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be identified for some individuals.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. That said, it’s never a bad strategy to come see us to schedule a hearing exam.
But you should absolutely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, perform a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this information.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is caused by a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
For those with chronic tinnitus then, the idea is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. In these cases, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic technique designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices generate just the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. The objective will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. Chances are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop them from growing worse. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.