Invisibility is a really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, often, achieve the impossible.
Unfortunately, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing condition. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant affect on people who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition 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 a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some people might hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.
In most cases, tinnitus will go away over a short period. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Sure, it can be a bit irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if that sound never goes away? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
What causes tinnitus?
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. Lots of things can cause a headache and that’s the problem. The same is also true of tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
The source of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be evident. In other situations, you may never really know. Here are a few general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus might be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Typically, that ringing disappears once you stop using the medication in question.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this inflammation.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause inflammation in the ear canal. This sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so common that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! Wearing ear protection if extremely loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Treatment will obviously be easier if you can identify the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax blockage is causing ringing in your ears, clearing out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some people, however, might never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to come see us to schedule a hearing exam.
But you should certainly make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. We will conduct a hearing exam, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be treated and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the base cause. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily fixed.
So managing symptoms so they have a minimal affect on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. Among the most common are the following:
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices create just the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid increases the volume of the outside world.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
We will create a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. 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 is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will most likely get worse if you do. You might be able to prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get in front of them. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.