Invisibility is a really 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.
Invisible health conditions, unfortunately, are just as potent and a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for example, is an incredibly common condition that impacts the ears. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no external symptoms.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable impact on those 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 disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. 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 temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes incapacitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? it’s not hard to see how that might begin to substantially impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever attempted to determine the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same goes for tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
In some cases, it may be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other cases. Here are some general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can lead to irreversible hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to check with your primary care provider in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to steer clear of excessively loud places (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely associated. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a big part of the situation here. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also worsen tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears might start ringing.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Usually, that ringing subsides once you quit using the medication in question.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it could become easier. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is causing ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some individuals, however, may never know what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it goes away, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place frequently). Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.
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 begin treatment). We will conduct a hearing screening, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even talk about your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If your tinnitus is a result of a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing 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 those who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively affect your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. amongst the most common are the following:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. In these cases, 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: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
We will develop 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 objective 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 most likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to stop them from getting worse. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.