Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, achieve the impossible.
Invisible health conditions, regrettably, are equally as potent and a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant impact on people who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. As a matter of fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (something like 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some people may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not actually there.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be somewhat annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? it’s not hard to imagine how that could begin to significantly impact your quality of life.
Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a wide variety of causes.
Sometimes, it may be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely associated. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so common that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! Using hearing protection if extremely loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to check with your physician in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when lots of mucus accumulates in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this swelling.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. Consequently, your ears may begin to ring.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment might become easier. Clearing a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, might never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it subsides, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Still, getting regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to find out what’s going on (or at least start treatment). 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. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a specific medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
For individuals who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively affect your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most common:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the outside world.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
The treatment plan that we devise will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the objective here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to stop them from getting worse. You should at least be certain to have your ear protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.