Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. The characters can often 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.
Regrettably, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be significant.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. 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. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (something like 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises including humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t really there.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be a bit annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? it’s not hard to imagine how that might begin to significantly impact your quality of life.
Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? 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 problem. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be obvious. But you might never really know in other cases. Here are some general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can occur when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the result of this inflammation.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus may be the result of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud locations (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are amongst the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause irreversible hearing loss.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is fairly sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- 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 may start ringing.
- Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, 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 seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
Treatment will clearly be simpler if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing 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.
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it goes away, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to come see us to schedule a hearing exam.
But you should certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will perform a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be treated and it can be managed.
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.
For individuals who have chronic tinnitus then, the idea is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively affect your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Here are a few 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 can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else relatively quieter. In these situations, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower 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 is a therapeutic strategy created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
We will develop a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can get 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. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from getting worse. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.