North Richland Hills, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

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

Unfortunately, invisible health problems are no less potent…and they’re a lot less enjoyable. Tinnitus, for instance, is a really common condition that affects the ears. But there are no external symptoms, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly you look.

But for people who experience tinnitus, though it may be invisible, the impact could be significant.

Tinnitus – what is it?

One thing we know for sure about tinnitus is that it can’t be seen. 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 get back from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is fairly common (somewhere around 25 million people experience tinnitus every year).

There are many other manifestations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Some people could hear buzzing, crunching, metallic noises, all kinds of things. The common denominator is that anybody who has tinnitus is hearing noises that are not actually there.

For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go very quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million people, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating condition. Sure, it can be somewhat annoying to hear that ringing for a few minutes now and again. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to see how that could start to significantly affect your quality of life.

Tinnitus causes

Have you ever attempted to identify the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the problem. The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a wide variety of causes.

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

  • Noise damage: Damage from loud noises can, over time, cause tinnitus symptoms to develop. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the primary causes of tinnitus! The best way to counter this type of tinnitus is to stay away from overly loud settings (or use hearing protection if avoidance isn’t possible).
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are frequently closely connected. In part, 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 rest of the world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can become louder.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other obstructions can cause swelling in the ear canal. As a result, your ears may start ringing.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are extremely sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be caused by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Typically, that ringing subsides when you stop taking the medication in question.
  • Colds or allergies: If a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears, it could cause some inflammation. This swelling can cause tinnitus.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause a large number of symptoms. Dizziness and tinnitus are amongst the first symptoms to manifest. With time, Meniere’s disease can lead to permanent hearing loss.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus may be the consequence of high blood pressure. If this is the case, it’s a smart plan to consult your physician in order to help control your blood pressure.

If you’re able to identify the cause of your tinnitus, managing it might become easier. clearing away a blockage, for instance, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some individuals, however, may never recognize what causes their tinnitus symptoms.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it recedes, it’s not really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). That said, it’s never a bad plan to check in with us to schedule a hearing exam.

However, if your tinnitus won’t subside or continues to come back, you should make an appointment with us to find out what’s going on (or at least begin treatment). We will ask you about your symptoms, talk to you about how your quality of life is being affected, do 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. The strategy is management and treatment.

If your tinnitus is a result of a root condition, such as an ear infection or a medication you’re taking, then dealing with that underlying condition will lead to a noticeable difference in your symptoms. But there will be no known root condition to treat if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus.

For people who have chronic tinnitus then, the goal is to manage your symptoms and help make sure your tinnitus doesn’t negatively affect your quality of life. There are lots of things that we can do to help. Here are a few of the most prevalent:

  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of amplifying them. These devices can be adjusted to your unique tinnitus symptoms, generating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less obvious.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We might refer you to another provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This technique uses therapy to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus sounds.
  • A hearing aid: When you have hearing loss, external sounds become quieter and your tinnitus symptoms become more noticeable. In these situations, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you may be hearing from your tinnitus.

We will formulate 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 goal here.

What should you do if you have tinnitus?

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 getting worse. You should at least be sure to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.

If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) schedule 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.

Questions? Talk To Us.