In the movies, invisibility is a powerful power. The characters can often 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 problems, regrettably, are just as potent and a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is a really common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial impact on people who experience symptoms.
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 disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million individuals experience it every day.
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises like humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not really there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be a bit irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever attempted to determine the cause of a headache? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it allergies? The trouble is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a large number of causes.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. But you may never really know in other cases. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is fairly sensitive! So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big part of the equation here. 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.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Normally, that ringing disappears once you quit taking the medication in question.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might 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 regulate your blood pressure.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause inflammation in the ear canal. Consequently, your ears might begin to ring.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it could cause some swelling. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Wearing ear protection if exceedingly loud locations can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can figure out the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, might never know what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, getting regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least begin treatment). We will perform a hearing screening, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re using a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you deal with 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 objective if you have chronic tinnitus. We can help in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most common:
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. 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 might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic technique created to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
We will develop a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you control your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will most 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 get yourself hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.