In the movies, invisibility is a powerful power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, often, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health problems, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less fun. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be considerable.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some people might hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten 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 significantly impacted.
Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. The trouble is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are some general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it might cause some inflammation. This inflammation can cause tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to appear. Irreversible hearing loss can happen over time.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears may start ringing.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Hearing loss: There is a close relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both of them 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.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the situation, it’s a smart plan to check with your doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Typically, that ringing goes away once you stop using the medication in question.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to steer clear of overly loud places (or use ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can identify the source of your tinnitus symptoms. clearing away a blockage, for example, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, may never know what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, getting regular hearing assessments is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should schedule some time 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, perform a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the mission is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively affect your quality of life. We can help in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most common:
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid raises the volume of the outside world.
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices create exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
We will develop a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. Your symptoms will most likely get worse if you do. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re 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.