Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. The characters can often 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 problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no outward symptoms.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable affect on individuals who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million people experience it every day.
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not actually there.
For most individuals, 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 chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. 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 that sound never goes away? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the issue. The same goes for tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- 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 leading causes of tinnitus! Wearing hearing protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this swelling.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause 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 triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Usually, that ringing goes away when you quit taking the medication in question.
- 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 equation here. In other words, both of them 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.
- 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 sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treating it might become easier. For example, if an earwax obstruction is causing 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 people.
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, getting regular hearing tests is always a smart plan.
But you should definitely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, do a hearing exam, and probably discuss your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re taking a specific medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you deal with the base cause. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices can be adjusted to your unique tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less conspicuous.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. The buzzing or ringing will be less noticeable when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the outside world.
We will develop an individualized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you manage 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. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.