In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. The characters can often do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health conditions, regrettably, are equally as potent and a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is an exceptionally common condition that impacts the ears. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no outward symptoms.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable impact on those who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
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 that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.
While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t actually there.
In most situations, tinnitus will go away quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Sure, it can be a little irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if that sound never goes away? it’s not hard to imagine how that could begin to substantially impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? The difficulty is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. But you may never really know in other cases. In general, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection 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 the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when lots of mucus accumulates in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this swelling.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. As a result, your ears could start ringing.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so common that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! Wearing hearing protection if very loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to consult your physician in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can identify the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some people, however, might never know what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to check in with us to schedule a hearing evaluation.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away 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 ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being impacted, perform a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
Tinnitus is not a condition that has a cure. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
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. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are many things that we can do to help. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic strategy created 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 adjusted to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, 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 may be hearing from your tinnitus.
The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus requirements. The objective will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might 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 have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.