Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you may 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 individuals who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. 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 sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that about 25 million people experience it every day.
There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people might hear humming, crunching, metallic sounds, all kinds of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? It’s easy to imagine how that could begin to substantially impact your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? Lots of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never truly know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud locations (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to manifest. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in irreversible hearing loss.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears could start ringing.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will typically subside.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both of them have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some people. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to consult your doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it might cause some swelling. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this swelling.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it may become simpler. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some people.
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). Still, getting regular hearing exams is always a smart plan.
But you should absolutely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it continues to come back. 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. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this information.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat 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. There are many things that we can do to help. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices create exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might 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 hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making everything else relatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.
The treatment plan that we devise will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus needs. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the objective here.
What should you do if you have 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 prevent them from getting worse. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.