In the movies, invisibility is a powerful tool. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, achieve the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for example, is a very common condition that affects the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial impact on those who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. As a matter of fact, tinnitus is a condition of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).
While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not really there.
In most situations, tinnitus will come and go over a short period. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be a little annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? Lots of things can cause a headache and that’s the issue. The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. But you may never really know in other situations. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will normally subside.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be triggered 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 direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very common. Using ear protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
- 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 begin to ring.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some swelling. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
Treatment will clearly be easier if you can pinpoint the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, might never identify what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it subsides, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Still, getting regular hearing tests is always a smart plan.
But you should absolutely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it continues to come back. We will perform a hearing test, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
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 dealing with that underlying condition will result in a noticeable difference in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic approach created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less conspicuous.
We will develop an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the objective here.
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Chances are, those symptoms will only get 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 hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.