In the movies, invisibility is a powerful tool. 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, accomplish the impossible.
Invisible health problems, regrettably, are equally as potent and a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be significant.
Tinnitus – what is it?
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 quite common (something like 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to imagine how that might begin to significantly affect your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever tried to determine the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. Lots of things can trigger a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a wide variety of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. In general, however, tinnitus might be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- 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 hearing protection if exceptionally loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation 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.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it could cause some inflammation. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: There is a close relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. 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 seem louder.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Usually, that ringing subsides once you stop taking the medication in question.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus may be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to check with your doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
Treatment will obviously be easier if you can figure out the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some individuals.
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it occurs frequently). Still, having regular hearing exams is always a good idea.
But you should certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being impacted, do a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this insight.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you deal with the base cause. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a minimal affect on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively 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 produce just the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy created to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the objective here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to prevent them from growing worse. You should at least be certain to have your ear protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.