Audiology & Hearing Care of SWFL - Bonita Springs, FL

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 tool. The characters can often do the impossible if they possess the power of invisibility, whether it’s a starship with cloaking ability or a wizard with an invisibility cloak.

Invisible health problems, unfortunately, are just as potent and a lot less enjoyable. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing condition. Regardless of how well you might look, there are no external symptoms.

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

What is tinnitus?

One thing we recognize 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 very quiet room, or when you return from a loud concert and you hear that ringing in your ears? That’s tinnitus. Now, tinnitus is rather common (something like 25 million people experience tinnitus yearly).

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

In most cases, tinnitus will go away quickly. But tinnitus is a persistent and incapacitating condition for between 2-5 million individuals. Think about it like this: 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 substantially impacted.

Tinnitus causes

Have you ever attempted to determine the cause of a headache? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? The trouble is that quite a few issues can cause headaches! The symptoms of tinnitus, though relatively common, also have a large number of causes.

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

  • 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.
  • Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by exposure to overly loud noise over time. One of the top causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises and this is very prevalent. Wearing hearing protection if extremely loud places can’t be avoided is the best way to prevent this kind of tinnitus.
  • Colds or allergies: Inflammation can occur when a lot of mucus backs up in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this inflammation.
  • Hearing loss: There is a close connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a strong contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. They both have the same cause, in other words. But hearing loss can also exacerbate tinnitus, when the outside world seems quieter, that ringing in your ears can seem louder.
  • High blood pressure: For some individuals, tinnitus could be the consequence of high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your physician is the best way to handle this.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Swelling of the ear canal can be caused by things like seasonal allergies, a cold, or an ear infection. This often causes ringing in your ears.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Quite a few symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Tinnitus and dizziness are among the first symptoms to appear. With time, Meniere’s disease can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Normally, that ringing disappears once you stop using the medication in question.

If you’re able to identify the cause of your tinnitus, managing it might become easier. Cleaning out a blockage, for example, will relieve tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. But the cause of their tinnitus symptoms may never be identified for some individuals.

Diagnosing Tinnitus

If you have ringing in your ears for a few minutes and then it recedes, it isn’t really something that needs to be diagnosed (unless it takes place often). Still, getting regular hearing exams is always a good idea.

However, if your tinnitus won’t go away or continues to come back, you should schedule some time with us to get to the bottom of it (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 used to diagnose your symptoms.

Treating tinnitus

Tinnitus isn’t a condition that has a cure. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.

If your tinnitus is due to an underlying condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then addressing that underlying condition will result in a noticeable difference in your symptoms. However, if you have chronic tinnitus, there will be no underlying condition that can be easily fixed.

For those 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. We can help in many ways. Among the most common are the following:

  • A masking device: This is a device much like a hearing aid, except instead of boosting sounds, it masks sound. These devices produce just the right amount and type of sound to make your particular tinnitus symptoms fade into the background.
  • A hearing aid: In some cases, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. The buzzing or ringing will be less evident when your hearing aid raises the volume of the external world.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: We may refer you to a different provider for cognitive behavior therapy. This is a therapeutic strategy designed to help you not notice the ringing in your ears.

The treatment plan that we create will be custom-tailored to your specific tinnitus requirements. The objective will be to help you control your symptoms so that you can go back to enjoying your life!

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

Even though tinnitus is invisible, it shouldn’t be ignored. Your symptoms will most likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from getting worse. At the very least, you should invest in hearing protection for your ears, make sure you’re using ear plugs or ear muffs whenever you are around loud noises.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, contact us, we can help.

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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.