In the movies, invisibility is a potent tool. 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, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health conditions, unfortunately, are just as potent and a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no external symptoms.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant affect on individuals who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for certain about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million people experience it every day.
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all kinds of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t actually there.
In most cases, tinnitus will go away over a short period. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes debilitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to see how that might begin to significantly affect your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever tried to determine the cause of a headache? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The trouble is that quite a few issues can cause headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it may be really apparent what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never truly know. In general, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a big part of the equation here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might be caused by high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to address this.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. The best way to prevent this type of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud places (or use ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause inflammation in the ear canal. As a result, your ears might begin to ring.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. Normally, that ringing subsides once you quit using the medication in question.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Among the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause permanent hearing loss.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it may become simpler. Clearing a blockage, for example, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, may never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, getting regular hearing assessments is always a good idea.
But you should definitely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it keeps coming 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 insight.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is caused by a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily addressed.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices create exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else relatively 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 might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. The goal will be to help you control your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will probably get worse if you do. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.