In the movies, invisibility is a powerful power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, often, accomplish the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for example, is a very common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be considerable.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that about 25 million people experience it every day.
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly affected.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the challenge. The same is also true of tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. In other situations, you might never really know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a large part of the equation here. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Wearing hearing protection if exceedingly loud locations can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus might be the consequence of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, may never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad strategy to check in with us to schedule a hearing exam.
But you should definitely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside 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 impacted, do a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re using a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you address the base cause. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily corrected.
For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the mission 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. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to 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 masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less apparent when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the external world.
The treatment plan that we devise will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. You might be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should get yourself hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.