Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. The characters can often do the impossible if they have 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 a very common condition that affects the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect could be considerable.
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 when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that around 25 million people experience it every day.
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anybody who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not really there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
Have you ever attempted to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? The difficulty is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. In other cases, you may never truly know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
- 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 big part of the equation here. Both of them 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.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a good idea to consult your physician in order to help control your blood pressure.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! Using hearing protection if exceedingly loud locations can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. As a result, your ears may start ringing.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medicines can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Usually, that ringing subsides when you stop taking the medication in question.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it could become simpler. Cleaning out a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
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 strategy to check in with us to schedule a hearing screening.
But you should definitely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being impacted, complete a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily corrected.
For individuals who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce just the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more obvious. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid raises the volume of the external world.
The treatment plan that we create will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus needs. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the objective here.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?
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 might be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. You should at least be sure to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.