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 starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health conditions, regrettably, are equally as potent and a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is a really common condition that affects 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 significant affect on individuals who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (something like 25 million people experience tinnitus yearly).
There are many other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some individuals could hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they aren’t actual sounds at all.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Sure, it can be a bit annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the issue. 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 obvious. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are some general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so common that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud locations (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some swelling. And tinnitus can be the result of this swelling.
- 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 relationship 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. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a smart plan to consult your doctor in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. Typically, that ringing goes away once you stop using 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 appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can lead to irreversible hearing loss.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause swelling in the ear canal. This often causes ringing in your ears.
If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, treating it could become easier. For example, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some individuals, however, might never know what’s causing 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 tests is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should schedule some time with us to find out what’s going on (or at least begin treatment). We will execute a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will result in an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. Among the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. In these situations, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
We will develop a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The goal will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You may be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get in front of them. 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 are around loud noises.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.