Tinnitus Might be Invisible but its Impact Can be Substantial

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 potent power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked starship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effectual and, frequently, achieve the impossible.

Regrettably, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is an exceptionally common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no outward symptoms.

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

What is tinnitus?

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 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 prevalent that about 25 million people experience it daily.

While ringing is the most common presentation of tinnitus, it isn’t the only one. Some individuals could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all sorts of things. Here’s the common denominator, anyone who has tinnitus is hearing sounds that aren’t really there.

For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-term affair, it will come and go very quickly. But tinnitus is a long-term and incapacitating 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 annoying, but you can distract yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? Obviously, your quality of life would be significantly impacted.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever had a headache and attempted to figure out the cause? Maybe 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 issue. The same is also true of tinnitus, although the symptoms might be common, the causes are widespread.

In some cases, it may be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you may never truly know. Here are a few general things that can trigger tinnitus:

  • Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this condition of the inner ear. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to appear. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. This often causes ringing in your ears.
  • Certain medications: Certain over-the-counter or prescription medicines can cause you to hear ringing in your ears. Once you quit using the medication, the ringing will usually subside.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus backs up in your ears, it might cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the outcome of this inflammation.
  • 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 top causes of tinnitus! The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud places (or wear ear protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • 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 big part of the situation here. Both of them 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 smart plan to consult your primary care provider in order to help manage your blood pressure.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are incredibly sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up triggering tinnitus symptoms.

Treatment will obviously be easier if you can identify the source of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing out a blockage, for instance, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, may never know what’s causing their tinnitus symptoms.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

Tinnitus that only lasts a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Still, having regular hearing assessments is always a good idea.

But you should certainly schedule an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it keeps coming back. 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 using this insight.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus is not a condition that can be cured. But it can be addressed and it can be controlled.

If your tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then addressing that underlying condition will lead to an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily fixed.

For those who have chronic tinnitus then, the idea is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively impact your quality of life. We can help in many ways. Here are a few of the most common:

  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your specific tinnitus symptoms, producing just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing substantially less noticeable.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid boosts the volume of the outside world.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.

The treatment plan that we formulate will be custom-designed to your specific tinnitus needs. The goal will be to help you regulate your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!

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

Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You may be able to stop your symptoms from getting worse if you can get ahead of them. You should at least be certain 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.