In the movies, invisibility is a potent tool. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Regrettably, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be significant.
What is tinnitus?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. 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. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some individuals may hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. Here’s the common denominator, anybody who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not actually there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be somewhat irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? It’s easy to imagine how that might begin to significantly impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? Are you getting a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? The difficulty is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.
In some cases, it may be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are some general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! Using hearing protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause inflammation in the ear canal. As a result, your ears might begin to ring.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might be the result of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your physician is the best way to address this.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both of them have the same cause. But hearing loss can also worsen tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally subside.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Among the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can lead to irreversible hearing loss.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treatment may become easier. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, might never recognize what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside 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 ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, complete a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this information.
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 lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily fixed.
For individuals who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. There are lots of things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic strategy created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices produce just the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
The treatment plan that we create will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus needs. 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 act like it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop them from getting worse. You should at least be sure 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.