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.

In the movies, invisibility is a powerful tool. The characters can often 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.

Unfortunately, invisible health disorders are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no outward symptoms.

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

Tinnitus – what is it?

One thing we know for certain 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 quiet room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million individuals experience it every day.

There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the common ringing. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The common denominator is that anyone who has tinnitus is hearing noises that aren’t actually there.

In most cases, tinnitus will go away over a short period. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating condition. Sure, it can be a bit annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly affected.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Perhaps it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. A number of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.

Sometimes, it might be really clear what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. But you may never really know in other cases. Here are several general things that can trigger tinnitus:

  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
  • Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus can both be brought about by noise damage and that’s a large part of the situation here. 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.
  • Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the leading causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this type of tinnitus is to avoid overly loud places (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the result of this swelling.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can trigger tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the situation, it’s a good idea to consult your physician in order to help control your blood pressure.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a condition of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. Irreversible hearing loss can occur over time.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be generated by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. As a result, your ears may start ringing.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.

If you’re able to figure out the cause of your tinnitus, managing it may become easier. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, may never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. That said, it’s never a bad strategy to come see us to schedule a hearing exam.

But you should certainly make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. We will execute a hearing examination, talk to you about your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.

Treating tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. The strategy is management and treatment.

If your tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily addressed.

So controlling symptoms so they have a minimal affect on your life is the objective if you have chronic tinnitus. We can help in many ways. Here are some of the most common:

  • A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making everything else relatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less apparent when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the external world.
  • 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 unique tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less noticeable.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.

We will develop a personalized and distinct treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. The goal will be to help you manage your symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life!

If you have tinnitus, what should you do?

Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Chances are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from growing worse. At the very least, you should get yourself hearing protection for your ears, make sure 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.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.