Tinnitus: The Invisible Condition with a Big Impact

Upset woman suffering from tinnitus laying in bed on her stomach with a pillow folded over the top of her head and ears.

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 conditions, unfortunately, are equally as potent and much less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is an exceptionally common condition that affects the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.

But for those who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the affect may be considerable.

Tinnitus – what is it?

So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. In fact, tinnitus is a condition of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you get back from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is pretty common (something like 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).

While ringing is the most typical presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals might hear buzzing, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.

In most situations, tinnitus will come and go over a short period. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially affected.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the challenge. The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.

Sometimes, it might be really clear 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:

  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, after a while, cause tinnitus symptoms to happen. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud places (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when lots of mucus accumulates in your ears. And tinnitus can be the result of this swelling.
  • Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medicines can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus might be the consequence of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to address this.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often causes ringing in your ears.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. With time, Meniere’s disease can cause irreversible hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss: There is a close association between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. 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.
  • Head or neck injuries: Your head is rather sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.

Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can reduce your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some people.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it subsides, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it occurs frequently). Still, getting regular hearing tests is always a smart plan.

But you should certainly make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it continues to come back. We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, perform a hearing exam, and most likely discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.

Treating tinnitus

There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.

If you’re taking a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the base cause. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.

For people who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus does not negatively affect your quality of life. We can help in many ways. amongst the most common are the following:

  • A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices can be adjusted to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less noticeable.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic approach designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
  • A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less noticeable when your hearing aid raises the volume of the external world.

The treatment plan that we create will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the objective here.

What should you do if you have tinnitus?

Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will most likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop them from getting worse. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re around loud noises.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, call us, we can help.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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