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 really 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 a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing condition. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how well you look.

But just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant affect on people who experience symptoms.

Tinnitus – what is it?

One thing we recognize for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. In fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, meaning that symptoms are auditory in nature. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (somewhere around 25 million individuals experience tinnitus every year).

There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people may hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.

In most situations, tinnitus will come and go quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes incapacitating condition. 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? It’s easy to imagine how that might begin to significantly affect your quality of life.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever had a headache and tried to narrow down 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 same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are extensive.

The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be obvious. But you may never really know in other situations. Here are a few general things that can cause tinnitus:

  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. Consequently, your ears might start ringing.
  • 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 common. Wearing hearing protection if exceedingly loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it may cause some swelling. This inflammation can trigger tinnitus.
  • 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 big part of the picture here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But hearing loss can also worsen tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
  • High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus might be caused by high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a good idea to check with your primary care provider in order to help manage your blood pressure.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Among the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. Permanent hearing loss can occur over time.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will normally subside.

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

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.

However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should schedule some time with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least start treatment). We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, complete a hearing exam, and probably discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this insight.

How is tinnitus treated?

There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.

If you’re taking a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you deal with 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 minimal impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are many things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most prevalent:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
  • A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds comparatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help turn the volume up on the rest of the world, and drown out the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
  • A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce just the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.

We will formulate an individualized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by controlling your symptoms is the goal here.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?

Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your symptoms will probably get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to prevent them from growing worse. At the very least, you should get yourself hearing protection for your ears, be certain you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you’re around loud noises.

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

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