Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. 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 enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is an incredibly common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be substantial.
What is tinnitus?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).
While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some people could hear humming, 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.
In most situations, tinnitus will go away quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating condition. Sure, it can be a little irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? It’s easy to see how that could start to substantially impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever tried to determine the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? The difficulty is that lots of issues can cause headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to manifest. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very common. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud places (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears could start ringing.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a large part of the situation here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to consult your physician in order to help manage your blood pressure.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment may become simpler. Cleaning out a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be known for some individuals.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists 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 certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it continues to come back. We will conduct a hearing test, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily fixed.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. amongst the most common are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- 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 evident when your hearing aid increases the volume of the external world.
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices can be calibrated to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less obvious.
We will create an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the objective here.
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You may be able to prevent your symptoms from worsening if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, be certain 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.