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. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, often, accomplish the impossible.

Unfortunately, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing disorder. But there are no external 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?

One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a disorder of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you sometimes hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million people experience it daily.

There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. Here’s the common denominator, anybody who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t actually there.

For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go really quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a chronic, sometimes incapacitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound doesn’t go away? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly affected.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, are you stressed, or is it an allergic reaction? The difficulty is that lots of issues can trigger headaches! The same is also true of tinnitus, even though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.

The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. In other cases, you might never truly know. In general, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:

  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
  • Head or neck injuries: Your head is pretty sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the result of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to check with your primary care provider in order to help control your blood pressure.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are among the first symptoms to manifest. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so common that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! The best way to counter this kind of tinnitus is to avoid overly loud settings (or wear ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some swelling. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
  • 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 large part of the equation here. In other words, they both have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often causes ringing in your ears.

Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can identify the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For instance, if an earwax blockage is causing ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can reduce your symptoms. Some people, however, may never identify what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

If your ears ring for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it occurs often). Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.

However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or keeps coming back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least begin treatment). We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being impacted, complete a hearing test, and most likely 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 your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.

So managing symptoms so they have a minimal affect on your life is the goal if you have persistent tinnitus. We can help in many ways. amongst the most common are the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. In these cases, 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.
  • A masking device: This is a device a lot 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.

The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus needs. 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?

Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. 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 getting worse. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.

If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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