Is Your Tinnitus Being Caused by Your Environment?

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

It isn’t unusual for individuals to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people have tinnitus at one time or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. Although the most common manifestation of tinnitus is a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ear, it can also present as other sounds as well.

While the preponderance of tinnitus may be obvious, the causes are frequently more opaque. Some of the wide variety of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be very important. After all, every setting has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is loud, you might be doing damage to your ears. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it may sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

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

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a sound that isn’t actually there. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other noises, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Usually, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus might become effectively permanent, a condition referred to as chronic tinnitus.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so common. Firstly, environmental factors that can play a role in tinnitus are rather common. The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of a root condition or injury. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. As a result, tinnitus tends to be rather common.

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

Other things can also trigger tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. But when it involves “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest offender. For instance, some neighborhoods are louder than others (traffic noise in some settings can get exceptionally 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.

As with hearing loss, noise-associated damage can eventually trigger tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is caused by noise damage, it’s normally chronic and frequently permanent. Some of the most common noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-frame. Shooting a gun or going to a rock concert are instances of this type of noise.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated places can be a lot louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these noisy locations.
  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around constant workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a fairly common practice. Doing this on a regular basis can often trigger tinnitus symptoms.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people usually expect. Consequently, it’s crucial to use 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?

Will tinnitus go away by itself? Well, in some instances it might. In other situations, your symptoms could be permanent. There’s no way to know which is which at the beginning. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t happened, resulting in an increased chance of chronic tinnitus in the future.

Individuals often underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to occur, 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 further damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Lowering the volume of your environment where possible. For example, you could close the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial equipment that isn’t in use.
  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

Dealing with symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a big distraction and are really uncomfortable for the majority of people who deal with them. As a result, they frequently ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

If you hear a buzzing or ringing sound, it’s important to make an appointment, especially if the sound doesn’t go away. We will be able to assess your symptoms and determine how best to manage them. For the majority of cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of amplifying sounds, it masks them. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your tinnitus symptoms.
  • White noise devices: Utilizing a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated by high blood pressure. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by utilizing relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Retraining therapy: In some situations, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.

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

But tinnitus can be managed and treated. We’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some, managing your tinnitus may simply mean using a white noise machine. In other cases, a more extensive approach might be necessary.

Make an appointment to find out how to address your tinnitus symptoms.

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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