Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. The characters can frequently do the impossible if they have the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Invisible health problems, unfortunately, are just as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is a very common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a considerable impact on people who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you often 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 yearly).
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some people could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t actually there.
In most cases, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating 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 you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it an allergic reaction? Lots of things can trigger a headache and that’s the problem. The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a large number of causes.
Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other situations, you might never really know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. The best way to counter this kind of tinnitus is to steer clear of excessively loud settings (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to handle this.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Normally, that ringing disappears when you quit taking the medication in question.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears might begin to ring.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely associated. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a large part of the picture here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. Over time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
- Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
Treatment will clearly be easier if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing a blockage, for instance, will alleviate tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some people.
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it occurs frequently). Still, getting regular hearing exams is always a smart plan.
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 perform a hearing screening, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed utilizing this insight.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.
If you’re using a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you address the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most common:
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices can be calibrated to your unique tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less noticeable.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid raises the volume of the external world.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
The treatment plan that we devise will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the objective here.
If you have tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You may be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get in front of them. At the very least, you should get yourself hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are 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.