In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effective and, often, accomplish the impossible.
Invisible health problems, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no outward symptoms.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be considerable.
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 that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million individuals experience it daily.
While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some individuals might hear humming, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be a bit irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to narrow down the cause? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? The trouble is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be obvious. But you may never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Normally, that ringing disappears when you quit using the medication in question.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to address this.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can occur when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause inflammation in the ear canal. As a result, your ears could begin to ring.
- Hearing loss: There is a close relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big part of the equation here. In other words, both of them have the same cause. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Using ear protection if exceptionally loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, may never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it subsides, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Still, having regular hearing exams is always a good idea.
But you should absolutely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it keeps coming back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, do a hearing exam, and probably discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this insight.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus is not a condition that has a cure. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re using a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the goal if you have chronic tinnitus. We can help in a variety of ways. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be adjusted to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less conspicuous.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. In these situations, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
We will create an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The goal will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You may be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get ahead of them. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.