Invisibility is a very useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, often, achieve the impossible.
Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for example, is a really common condition that affects the ears. 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 considerable impact on individuals who experience symptoms.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for sure 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 that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that about 25 million people experience it every day.
While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some people could 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 individuals, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be somewhat annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? 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 symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a large number of causes.
The cause of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. In other cases, you might never really know. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:
- 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 check with your physician in order to help manage your blood pressure.
- 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 may begin to ring.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
- Colds or allergies: Swelling can happen when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this swelling.
- Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to steer clear of overly loud locations (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
- Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Usually, that ringing disappears when you stop taking the medication in question.
- Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by noise damage and that’s a large part of the situation here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for example, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place frequently). Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.
However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should schedule some time with us to find out what’s going on (or at least start treatment). We will conduct a hearing test, 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.
How is tinnitus treated?
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 using, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily corrected.
So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:
- A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. In these cases, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic technique created to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
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 goal here.
What should you do if you have tinnitus?
Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your symptoms will most 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 wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.