Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.
Unfortunately, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing disorder. Regardless of how well you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be substantial.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. As a matter of fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.
While ringing is the most typical manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some people might hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.
In most situations, tinnitus will go away quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating condition. 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 easy to see how that might start to significantly affect your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The difficulty is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.
In some cases, it may be really apparent what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other situations, you may never truly know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. 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 seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
- Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Typically, that ringing subsides when you stop taking the medication in question.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to manifest. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this inflammation.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this type of tinnitus is to steer clear of overly loud settings (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it may become easier. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, may never identify what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it goes away, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to come see us to schedule a hearing exam.
But you should certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. We will perform a hearing screening, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing that underlying condition will result in a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily fixed.
So managing symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are a few of the most common:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. The buzzing or ringing will be less apparent when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the outside world.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices create just the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Chances are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You may be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.