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 really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effectual and, often, achieve the impossible.

Invisible health disorders, unfortunately, are equally as potent and a lot less fun. Tinnitus, for instance, is a really common condition that impacts the ears. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.

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

What is tinnitus?

One thing we recognize 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 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. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).

While ringing is the most common manifestation of tinnitus, it’s not the only one. Noises including humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not actual sounds at all.

For most people, tinnitus will be a temporary affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a lasting and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Sure, it can be somewhat irritating to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and then. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever attempted to pinpoint the cause of a headache? 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 symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.

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

  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the leading causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. Wearing hearing protection if exceptionally loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
  • 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 causes ringing in your ears.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up producing tinnitus symptoms.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some swelling. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
  • Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Among the first symptoms, however, are generally tinnitus and dizziness. Over time, Meniere’s disease can cause irreversible hearing loss.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your doctor is the best way to handle this.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both of them 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.

Treatment will clearly be easier if you can figure out the source of your tinnitus symptoms. For example, if an earwax blockage is causing ringing in your ears, clearing that earwax can reduce your symptoms. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be known for some individuals.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

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 strategy to check in with us to schedule a hearing evaluation.

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 start treatment). We will conduct a hearing examination, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and perhaps even discuss your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this insight.

Treating tinnitus

Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. The strategy is management and treatment.

If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to manage if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.

For people with chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in a variety of ways. amongst the most common are the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This strategy uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.
  • 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 specific tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less noticeable.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds get quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more obvious. The buzzing or ringing will be less noticeable when your hearing aid raises the volume of the outside world.

The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.

If you have tinnitus, what should you do?

Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to prevent them from growing worse. You should at least be certain to have your ear 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.

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.