In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. 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.
Unfortunately, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no external symptoms.
But for individuals who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact may be significant.
Tinnitus – what is it?
One thing we recognize for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. 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. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it every day.
While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some people may hear humming, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.
For most people, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go really quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be a little annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.
What causes tinnitus?
Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The difficulty is that lots of issues can cause headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a wide variety of causes.
In some cases, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you might never really know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:
- Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
- Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will usually go away.
- Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are generally dizziness and tinnitus. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
- Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some swelling. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this swelling.
- Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause inflammation in the ear canal. This often causes ringing in your ears.
- Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! Using hearing protection if exceptionally loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
- 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.
- 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 big part of the equation here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
Treatment will clearly be easier if you can determine the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for example, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some individuals.
If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it subsides, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it happens frequently). Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to check in with us to schedule a hearing exam.
However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or keeps coming back, you should schedule some time with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least begin treatment). We will perform a hearing examination, discuss your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and perhaps even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be used to diagnose your symptoms.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. The strategy is management and treatment.
If you’re taking a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you address the base cause. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.
So managing symptoms so they have a limited affect on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of 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.
- A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices generate exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
- A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. In these situations, 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.
The treatment plan that we formulate 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’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?
Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to prevent them from getting worse. You should at least be sure to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.
If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.
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