In the movies, invisibility is a powerful tool. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they have the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health problems, regrettably, are equally as potent and much less fun. As an illustration, 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 significant impact on people who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you occasionally hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not really there.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The trouble is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are extensive.
In some cases, it may be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never really know. Here are some general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
- 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. Irreversible hearing loss can happen over time.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a big part of the picture here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But hearing loss can also worsen tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. Wearing ear protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when lots 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 inflammation in the ear canal. This often causes ringing in your ears.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment could become simpler. For instance, if an earwax blockage is causing ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can relieve your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some individuals.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should schedule some time with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least begin treatment). We will execute a hearing exam, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this information.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you deal with the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be adjusted to your unique tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less conspicuous.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the external world.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic technique designed 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. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You may be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front 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’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.