In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. The characters can often do the impossible if they have the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health problems, unfortunately, are equally as potent and much less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no external symptoms.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable affect on individuals who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for certain 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 when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (somewhere around 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).
There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Here’s one way to think about it: 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 doesn’t go away? Clearly, your quality of life would be substantially affected.
Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the problem. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you might never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a big part of the situation here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. This sometimes causes ringing in your ears.
- Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
- Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might 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 manage your blood pressure.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! The best way to counter this kind of tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud locations (or wear ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can figure out the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing out a blockage, for example, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, might never recognize what’s causing 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 check in with us to schedule a hearing exam.
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 conduct a hearing screening, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that can be cured. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.
If you’re taking a specific medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you deal with the base cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited affect 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 common are the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid increases 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 generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
We will develop an individualized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.
What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. You may be able to stop 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’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.