In the movies, invisibility is a formidable power. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Unfortunately, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no external 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?
One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not actually there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The trouble is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a large number of causes.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. In other situations, you may never really know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! Using hearing protection if exceptionally loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. As a result, your ears may start ringing.
If you’re able to identify the cause of your tinnitus, treating it may become simpler. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, might never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
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 often). Having said that, it’s never a bad strategy to check in with us to schedule a hearing screening.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away 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 exam, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this information.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus is not a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If your tinnitus is a result of a root condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then dealing with that underlying condition will result in an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the idea is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively affect your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more obvious. In these situations, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be calibrated to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less conspicuous.
We will create a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the objective here.
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from growing worse. 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.