Tinnitus: The Invisible Condition with a Huge 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. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.

Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for instance, is a really common condition that affects the ears. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no external symptoms.

But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a substantial impact on people who experience symptoms.

Tinnitus – what is it?

So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. 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 get back from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million people experience it every day.

There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.

For most individuals, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go really quickly. 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 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? It’s easy to see how that could start to significantly affect your quality of life.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever tried to identify the cause of a headache? Are you getting a cold, are you stressed, or is it allergies? A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.

The cause of your tinnitus symptoms may, in some cases, be obvious. In other cases, you might never really know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus might be caused by the following:

  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Among the first symptoms, however, are usually dizziness and tinnitus. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus may 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 sometimes triggers ringing in your ears.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
  • 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 leading causes of tinnitus! Using ear protection if very loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often 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 the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
  • Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it could cause some swelling. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.

Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can pinpoint 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 identified for some individuals.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a smart plan.

But you should definitely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it continues to come back. We will execute a hearing screening, 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.

Treating tinnitus

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

If you’re using a particular medication or have an underlying medical condition, your symptoms will get better when you deal with the base cause. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily addressed.

For those with chronic tinnitus then, the mission is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Here are a few of the most common:

  • A masking device: This is a device a lot like a hearing aid, except instead of amplifying sounds, it masks sound. These devices create exactly the right amount and type of sound to make your specific tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
  • A hearing aid: In some cases, 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.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.

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

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

Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop 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, 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.