In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effective and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.
Invisible health conditions, regrettably, are equally as potent and a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing disorder. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be considerable.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we know for certain about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that 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 a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it every day.
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some people could hear humming, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these sounds 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 very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? It’s easy to imagine how that could start to substantially affect your quality of life.
Have you ever attempted to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
Sometimes, it might be really apparent what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never really 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. And tinnitus can be the result of this inflammation.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some people. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to check with your physician in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely associated. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Among the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. Permanent 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. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud settings (or wear ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can determine the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is causing ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can relieve your symptoms. Some individuals, however, might never know what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it recedes, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens often). That said, it’s never a bad plan to check in with us to schedule a hearing screening.
But you should definitely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away 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 probably discuss your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address 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 impact on your life is the goal if you have chronic tinnitus. We can help in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic approach designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your specific tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less noticeable.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. In these situations, 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.
We will formulate an individualized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Chances are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop 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, call us, we can help.