In the movies, invisibility is a formidable power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health problems, regrettably, are equally as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is a very common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial affect on individuals who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
One thing we know for certain about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. In fact, tinnitus is a condition of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. 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 people experience tinnitus yearly).
There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? it’s not hard to imagine how that could begin to substantially impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Are you getting a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the issue. The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a wide variety of causes.
In some cases, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you might never really know. In general, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Hearing loss: There is a close relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. They both 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.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it could cause some swelling. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in irreversible hearing loss.
- 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 doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud locations (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling 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, treatment may become simpler. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. 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. Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to check in with us to schedule a hearing exam.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away 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 ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, do a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you address the base cause. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- 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 specific tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. The buzzing or ringing will be less noticeable when your hearing aid raises the volume of the outside world.
We will formulate a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your symptoms will probably get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to stop them from growing worse. At the very least, you should get yourself 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.