Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effective and, often, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health conditions, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing disorder. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial impact on people who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
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 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 quite common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).
While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not actually there.
In most situations, tinnitus will go away quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating condition. Sure, it can be a bit irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if that sound never goes away? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. Lots of things can cause a headache and that’s the issue. The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a large number of causes.
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 trigger tinnitus:
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your physician is the best way to address this.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely associated. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. The best way to prevent this type of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud locations (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. This inflammation can trigger 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 usually dizziness and tinnitus. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears could begin to ring.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment could become simpler. For example, if an earwax obstruction is causing ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some individuals, however, may never recognize what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
But you should certainly make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will execute a hearing exam, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a specific medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the base cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
For people 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 a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. 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.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic technique created to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices create exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
We will formulate a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you regulate 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 act like 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. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.