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 really useful power in the movies. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a sneaky ninja, invisibility allows people in movies to be more effective and, often, accomplish the impossible.

Unfortunately, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less fun. As an example, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. But there are no outward symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.

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

What is tinnitus?

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 often hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million individuals experience it daily.

There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises including humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.

For most people, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes incapacitating condition. Here’s one way to think about it: hearing that ringing in your ears for five or ten minutes is irritating, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t be free from that sound, ever? It’s easy to imagine how that might start to substantially impact your quality of life.

What causes tinnitus?

Have you ever tried to pinpoint the cause of a headache? Maybe it’s stress; maybe you’re getting a cold; maybe it’s allergies. The trouble is that quite a few issues can cause headaches! The same goes for tinnitus, even though the symptoms might be common, the causes are extensive.

Sometimes, it might be really obvious what’s causing your tinnitus symptoms. In other cases, you might never truly know. Generally speaking, however, tinnitus could be caused by the following:

  • Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. Over time, Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause swelling in the ear canal. Consequently, your ears may start ringing.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus may be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the situation, it’s a smart plan to consult your doctor in order to help control your blood pressure.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it may cause some inflammation. And tinnitus can be the result of this inflammation.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you stop taking the medication, the ringing will normally go away.
  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is quite prevalent. The best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud locations (or wear hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. So head injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)–can end up causing tinnitus symptoms.
  • Hearing loss: There is a close relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss. Partly, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, both of them have the same cause. But the ringing in your ears can sound louder with hearing loss because the outside world is quieter.

Treatment will clearly be easier if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. 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. That said, it’s never a bad strategy to check in with us to schedule a hearing screening.

But you should certainly make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t go away or if it keeps coming back. We will execute a hearing screening, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. Your symptoms can then be diagnosed using this information.

Treating tinnitus

There’s no cure for tinnitus. The strategy is management and treatment.

If you’re using a particular medication or have a root medical condition, your symptoms will improve when you address the underlying cause. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.

For individuals 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 a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy created to help you not pay attention to the ringing in your ears.
  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be adjusted to your distinctive tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less conspicuous.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, outside sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more apparent. The buzzing or ringing will be less obvious when your hearing aid raises the volume of the external world.

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

What should you do if you’re dealing with tinnitus?

Tinnitus might be invisible, but the last thing you should do is pretend it isn’t there. Odds are, those symptoms will only grow worse. You may be able to prevent 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.


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