Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effective and, often, achieve the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing condition. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be significant.
What is tinnitus?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. Sure, it can be a bit annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? It’s easy to imagine how that could start to substantially impact your quality of life.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you may never really know in other cases. In general, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely associated. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big 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 external world is quieter.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this swelling.
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Usually, that ringing disappears when you stop using the medication in question.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to handle this.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. Wearing ear protection if extremely loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause inflammation in the ear canal. As a result, your ears may begin to ring.
Treatment will obviously be easier if you can identify the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, clearing out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some people, however, might never identify what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it subsides, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). Still, having regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
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 start treatment). We will conduct a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this information.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is caused by a root condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily fixed.
For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the mission is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic technique created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. 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 hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
The treatment plan that we develop 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?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to stop them from getting worse. 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) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.