In the movies, invisibility is a formidable power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health problems, regrettably, are just as potent and a lot less fun. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. 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 people who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
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 sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million individuals experience it daily.
There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.
In most cases, tinnitus will come and go over a short period. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the problem. The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a wide variety of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you might never truly know. Here are a few general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are usually dizziness and tinnitus. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about 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 worsen tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this swelling.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause swelling in the ear canal. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud locations (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a smart plan to check with your physician in order to help manage your blood pressure.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment might become simpler. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some individuals, however, may never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, getting regular hearing assessments is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or keeps coming back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least start treatment). We will perform a hearing test, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will result in an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. amongst the most common are the following:
- 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 turn the volume up 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 device much like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
We will formulate a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Chances are, those symptoms will only get worse. You may be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.