Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they have the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health conditions, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is an exceptionally common condition that impacts the ears. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be substantial.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we know for certain about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. 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 common that about 25 million individuals experience it every day.
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that are not actually there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Sure, it can be a little irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to imagine how that could start to significantly affect your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever attempted to identify the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the problem. The same goes for tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Hearing loss: There is a close association 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, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling 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.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a smart plan to check with your primary care provider in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it could cause some inflammation. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. Wearing ear protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. Usually, that ringing subsides when you quit taking the medication in question.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some people.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it subsides, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it occurs frequently). Still, having regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should schedule some time with us to find out what’s going on (or at least start treatment). We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, do a hearing test, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that can be cured. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
If you’re using a specific medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. We can help in many ways. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices generate 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 may end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. 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.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus requirements. The objective will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to prevent them from growing worse. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.