Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. The characters can frequently 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.
Unfortunately, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is an exceptionally 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 individuals who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not actually there.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go over a short period. But tinnitus is a long-term and debilitating 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 annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
Have you ever attempted to determine the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? Lots of things can trigger a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a wide variety of causes.
In some cases, it may be really apparent what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never really know. Here are some general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause inflammation in the ear canal. This sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. Over time, Meniere’s disease can result in irreversible hearing loss.
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. This inflammation can cause tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Wearing hearing protection if exceedingly loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this type of tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a big part of the situation here. In other words, both of them have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to address this.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treatment may become simpler. Clearing a blockage, for example, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be identified for some people.
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing exams is always a smart plan.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should make an appointment with us to find out what’s going on (or at least begin treatment). We will conduct a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to an underlying condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily addressed.
So managing symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life is the goal if you have chronic tinnitus. There are many things that we can do to help. 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 generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic approach designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. 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.
The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from worsening 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.