Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, often, accomplish the impossible.
Invisible health disorders, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is an exceptionally common condition that affects the ears. Regardless of how well you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be significant.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we know for certain 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 when you are sitting in a very quiet room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).
There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some individuals may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes incapacitating condition. Sure, it can be somewhat irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to imagine how that could begin to significantly impact your quality of life.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. The difficulty is that lots of issues can cause headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are extensive.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other situations, you may never really know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. As a result, your ears may begin to ring.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medicines can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! Wearing ear protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your physician is the best way to address this.
- 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 large part of the situation here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- 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.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, managing it may become simpler. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Still, having regular hearing tests is always a good idea.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should schedule some time with us to find out what’s going on (or at least start treatment). We will conduct a hearing test, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.
If your tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing 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 goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are a few of the most common:
- A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. In these cases, 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.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic approach designed to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
We will develop an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You might be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get ahead of them. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.