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, often, accomplish the impossible.
Invisible health problems, regrettably, are just as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is an exceptionally common condition that impacts 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 considerable affect on people who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
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 when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million people experience it daily.
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some individuals may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t really 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 incapacitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? The trouble is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
Sometimes, it might be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you may never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can cause tinnitus:
- 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. Using hearing protection if extremely loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to check with your physician in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are among the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears might begin to ring.
Treatment will clearly be easier if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax blockage is triggering ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can reduce your symptoms. Some individuals, however, may never identify what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing exams 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 conduct a hearing screening, 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 information.
How is tinnitus treated?
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you deal with the underlying cause. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily addressed.
For those with chronic tinnitus then, the idea is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively affect your quality of life. There are lots of things that we can do to help. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic approach designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid raises the volume of the outside world.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be adjusted to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less obvious.
We will formulate an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The goal will be to help you control 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. Chances are, those symptoms will only get worse. You may 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, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re 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.