Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. The characters can often do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health disorders, unfortunately, are equally as potent and a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial affect on people who experience symptoms.
What is tinnitus?
One thing we recognize for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million people experience it daily.
While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals might hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.
In most cases, tinnitus will go away quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes incapacitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the problem. The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a wide variety of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are several general things that can cause tinnitus:
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Typically, that ringing disappears when you quit taking the medication in question.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears could begin to ring.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when lots of mucus backs up in your ears. This inflammation can cause tinnitus.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. Using hearing protection if exceedingly loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big part of the situation here. 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.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus may be caused by high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to consult your doctor in order to help regulate your blood pressure.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are among the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, treatment may become simpler. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, might never know what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.
How is tinnitus diagnosed?
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.
But you should absolutely schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being impacted, perform a hearing exam, and most likely discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that can be cured. But it can be treated and it can be managed.
If you’re using a specific medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. amongst the most prevalent are the following:
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more obvious. The buzzing or ringing will be less apparent when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the external world.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less noticeable.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic technique designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
The treatment plan that we develop will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus needs. The goal will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
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 prevent your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. You should at least be sure to have your ear protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.