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 starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Unfortunately, invisible health conditions are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be considerable.
What is tinnitus?
So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is quite common (somewhere around 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).
There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t actual sounds at all.
In most cases, tinnitus will go away quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is irritating, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? It’s easy to imagine how that might begin to substantially affect your quality of life.
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Are you catching a cold, are you stressed, or is it allergies? The trouble is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it may be really apparent what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you may never really know in other cases. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus might be caused by the following:
- Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to stay away from excessively loud locations (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. 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 worsen tinnitus, when the rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
Treatment will obviously be easier if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. Some individuals, however, might never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.
But you should absolutely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. We will execute a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.
If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily fixed.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. There are lots of things that we can do to help. Among the most common are the following:
- A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making everything else comparatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the outside world.
- A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your specific tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less conspicuous.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
We will formulate a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The objective will be to help you control your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from getting worse. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re using 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.