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 people in movies to be more effective and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.
Unfortunately, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is a very common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable affect on people who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for certain about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. 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. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t actual sounds at all.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be somewhat annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if that sound never goes away? it’s not hard to imagine how that might start to substantially affect your quality of life.
Have you ever attempted to identify the cause of a headache? Are you getting a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the issue. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. In other situations, you may never really know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus might be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Partly, 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 hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally subside.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to consult your physician in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Wearing ear protection if exceptionally loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
Treatment will obviously be easier if you can figure out the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax blockage is triggering ringing in your ears, clearing out that earwax can reduce your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be identified for some individuals.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.
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 start treatment). We will conduct a hearing examination, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe 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 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 underlying cause. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily corrected.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less obvious.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds 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: We may refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
We will develop a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The goal will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get 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. You may be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get in front 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, contact us, we can help.