Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. 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, achieve the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no outward symptoms.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant impact on those who experience symptoms.
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 that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t really there.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. Think about it like this: 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? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are extensive.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. In other situations, you may never truly know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your physician is the best way to address this.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will typically subside.
- 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 sometimes triggers ringing in your ears.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the result of this inflammation.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. Using ear protection if very 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. Among the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is fairly sensitive! So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also worsen tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
Treatment will clearly be easier if you can determine the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for example, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be known for some people.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it recedes, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a good idea.
But you should definitely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it keeps coming back. We will perform a hearing test, talk to you about 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.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.
If your tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will result in a noticeable difference in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
For people with chronic tinnitus then, the mission is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. The goal will be to help you control your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, 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 may 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’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.