Is Your Tinnitus Stemming From Your Environment?

Worried man listening to a ringing in his ear. Tinnitus concept

It isn’t uncommon for people to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. It’s one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world with some estimates suggesting that up to 10 percent of the population experiences it at one time or another. The condition is experienced as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, usually, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can take the form of other sounds also.

While the preponderance of tinnitus might be evident, the causes are often more cloudy. In part, that’s because tinnitus could be caused by a wide array of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be critically important. If the background sound of your particular setting is very noisy, you could be harming your hearing. If your tinnitus is due to damage, it may end up being permanent.

What is tinnitus (and why is it so common)?

When you hear noises that aren’t really present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other noises, like screeching, thumping, or humming. The sounds are typically rhythmic in nature. For most individuals, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before solving itself and vanishing. In less common cases, tinnitus may become effectively permanent, a condition referred to as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so common for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that play a role in tinnitus are also relatively common (more on that in a bit). The second reason is that tinnitus is frequently a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. In other words, there are many such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather prevalent for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. For instance, some neighborhoods are noisier than others (traffic noise in some areas can get extremely high). Likewise, anybody who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment exacerbating their tinnitus.

These environmental factors can be incredibly important when considering your hearing health.

Noise induced damage, as with hearing loss, can activate tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s usually chronic and often permanent. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Tinnitus can eventually result from being in these settings for eight hours a day, whether it’s industrial equipment or the din of lots of people talking in an office.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short stretches, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes get to a loud enough level.
  • Music: Many people will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Doing this on a consistent basis can often result in tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: You may not even recognize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And you might not even realize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the outcome of long commutes in these noisy settings.

Hearing damage can occur at a much lower volume than people usually expect. As a result, it’s essential to wear hearing protection before you think you might need it. Noise associated tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

What should I do if I have tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Perhaps, in some cases. In other situations, your symptoms could be permanent. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t happened, leading to an increased risk of chronic tinnitus in the future.

People tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its advancement. Damage has probably already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the case, finding and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent additional damage.

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Reducing the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recuperate.
  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to prevent damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.
  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. If you have any machinery that isn’t in use, turn it off, and shut the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.

How to deal with your symptoms

Many people who experience persistent tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously disruptive and unpleasant. This prompts them to attempt to find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

You should give us a call for an appointment if you are hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We will be able to assess your symptoms and determine how best to manage them. For most cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be worsened by high blood pressure. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help decrease your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus can be drowned out by amplifying the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.
  • White noise devices: In some instances, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your home.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the help of a specialist, which will slowly retrain the way you process sound.

Tinnitus is not curable. That’s why controlling your environment to protect your hearing is a great first step.

But treating and managing tinnitus is possible. We’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. A white noise machine, for many individuals, might be all that’s required. For other people, management might be more intense.

Learn how to best control your tinnitus by making an appointment right away!

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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