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 characters in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.

Invisible health disorders, regrettably, are just as potent and much less enjoyable. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing disorder. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no outward symptoms.

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

What is tinnitus?

So we know one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition 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. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (somewhere around 25 million individuals experience tinnitus yearly).

There are lots of other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises including humming, buzzing, crackling, clicking, and lots of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they aren’t real sounds at all.

In most situations, tinnitus will come and go over a short period. But tinnitus is a persistent and debilitating condition for between 2-5 million people. Here’s one way to think about it: 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? Clearly, your quality of life would be significantly affected.

Tinnitus causes

Have you ever attempted to identify the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; perhaps it’s allergies. Lots of things can cause a headache and that’s the challenge. The same is also true of tinnitus, though the symptoms may be common, the causes are widespread.

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

  • Hearing loss: There is a close association 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 picture here. They both have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are among the first symptoms to manifest. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
  • Head or neck injuries: Your head is quite sensitive! So head injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it might cause some swelling. This swelling can trigger tinnitus.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Just like a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. Consequently, your ears could begin to ring.
  • Certain medications: Some over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause you to have ringing in your ears. Once you stop using the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the primary causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite common. Wearing hearing protection if extremely loud locations can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this type of tinnitus.

Treatment will obviously be easier if you can pinpoint the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Cleaning out a blockage, for example, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, may never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

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

However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to find out what’s going on (or at least start treatment). We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, complete a hearing test, and probably discuss your medical history. All of that insight will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.

Treating tinnitus

There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.

If your tinnitus is caused by a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily fixed.

For individuals who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are some of the most prevalent:

  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be adjusted to your specific tinnitus symptoms, producing 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 noticeable. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid raises the volume of the outside world.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic technique created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.

We will develop a personalized 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.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?

Even though tinnitus can’t be seen, it shouldn’t be ignored. Chances are, those symptoms will only get worse. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you may be able to stop them from growing worse. At the very least, you should purchase hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re wearing ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.

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.