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 possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a spaceship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.

Invisible health problems, regrettably, are just as potent and a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for example, is a really common condition that impacts the ears. Regardless of how good you might look, there are no external symptoms.

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

Tinnitus – what is it?

One thing we recognize for sure about tinnitus is that you can’t see it. As a matter of fact, tinnitus is a disorder of the ears, which means symptoms are auditory in nature. You know when you are sitting in a silent room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear a ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so common that around 25 million individuals experience it daily.

While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Some individuals might hear humming, crunching, metallic sounds, all sorts of things. The one thing that all of these sounds have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.

For most people, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if that sound never goes away? Obviously, your quality of life would be substantially impacted.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever had a headache and attempted to narrow down the cause? Are you getting a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? The difficulty is that quite a few issues can cause headaches! 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. In other cases, you might never really know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus may be caused by the following:

  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss.
  • Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medicines can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Typically, that ringing goes away once you stop using the medication in question.
  • Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to excessively loud noise over time. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very common. The best way to prevent this type of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud settings (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some people. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to address this.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely associated. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them 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.
  • 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 sometimes triggers ringing in your ears.
  • Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when lots of mucus accumulates in your ears. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
  • Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.

If you’re able to determine the cause of your tinnitus, managing it might become easier. For instance, if an earwax obstruction is triggering ringing in your ears, cleaning out that earwax can relieve your symptoms. 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. That said, it’s never a bad strategy to come see us to schedule a hearing screening.

However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to get to the bottom of it (or at least start treatment). We will conduct a hearing test, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even talk about your medical history. All of that insight will be used to diagnose your symptoms.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus is not a condition that has a cure. The strategy is management and treatment.

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

So managing symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life is the goal if you have chronic tinnitus. There are many things that we can do to help. Here are a few of the most prevalent:

  • A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes obvious because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid increases the volume of the external world.
  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices generate just the right amount and type of sound to make your distinct tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we may end up referring you to a different provider. This is a therapeutic technique designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.

We will develop 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 objective here.

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 probably get worse if you do. 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 ear protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact 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.