In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
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 for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect could be significant.
What is tinnitus?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. As a matter of fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you occasionally hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is quite common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you getting a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? The trouble is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a wide variety of causes.
Sometimes, it may be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other situations, you might never truly know. Here are a few general things that can trigger 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 causing tinnitus symptoms.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to address this.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Normally, that ringing goes away once you quit using the medication in question.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! Using ear protection if exceptionally loud locations can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a large part of the picture here. 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.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this swelling.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This sometimes triggers ringing in your ears.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. clearing away 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 known for some people.
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing exams is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least begin treatment). We will perform a hearing test, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If you’re taking a specific medication or have a root 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 fixed.
For people with chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively affect your quality of life. We can help in a variety of ways. amongst the most common are the following:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid increases the volume of the external world.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
We will formulate an individualized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the goal here.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds 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 getting worse. You should at least be sure 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.