In the movies, invisibility is a powerful tool. The characters can often do the impossible if they have the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Regrettably, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you may look, there are no outward symptoms.
But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be considerable.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for certain about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that around 25 million people experience it every day.
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some people may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly affected.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? The trouble is that quite a few issues can cause headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a large number of causes.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. But you may never really know in other situations. In general, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the situation, it’s a good idea to check with your primary care provider in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely associated. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big part of the situation here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can lead to irreversible hearing loss.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Usually, that ringing subsides once you quit taking the medication in question.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears may begin to ring.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very common. Wearing ear protection if very loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can identify the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For instance, if an earwax blockage is triggering ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. That said, it’s never a bad plan to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least start treatment). We will perform a hearing exam, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will result in an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
For people who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Among the most common are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. In these situations, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your unique tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less conspicuous.
We will create a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. You should at least be certain to have your ear protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.