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.

Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an illustration, tinnitus is an extremely common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no outward symptoms.

But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be considerable.

What is tinnitus?

So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. 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 occasionally hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it every day.

There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.

For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating 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? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.

Tinnitus causes

Have you ever attempted to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. The difficulty is that quite a few issues can trigger headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though rather common, also have a wide variety of causes.

The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. But you may never really know in other cases. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:

  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it might cause some swelling. This inflammation can cause tinnitus.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to address this.
  • Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
  • Head or neck injuries: Your head is fairly sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are usually tinnitus and dizziness. Irreversible hearing loss can happen over time.
  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to steer clear of excessively loud places (or use ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Inflammation of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often triggers ringing in your ears.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. 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 obviously be simpler if you can pinpoint the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax blockage is causing ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can alleviate your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms might never be known for some people.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

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 takes place frequently). Still, getting regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.

But you should certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it keeps coming back. We will conduct a hearing screening, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus is not a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.

If you’re using a specific medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily addressed.

For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the mission is to manage your symptoms and help ensure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Among the most common are the following:

  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices produce exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more obvious. In these situations, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.

The treatment plan that we devise will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. The goal will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!

What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?

Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. You might be able to stop your symptoms from worsening if you can get in front of them. 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.

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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