Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

It isn’t unusual for people to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. It’s one of the most common health conditions in the world with some estimates indicating that up to 10 percent of the population experiences it at one point or another. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds as well.

While the prevalence of tinnitus may be evident, the causes are often more opaque. Some of the wide range of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more long term.

That’s why your environment can be critically 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 might sometimes react 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. For most individuals, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but it might also present as rumbling, humming, screeching, or other sounds as well. Usually, the sounds are steady or rhythmic. For the majority of people, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

Tinnitus is so prevalent for a couple of reasons. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are rather prevalent. The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. In other words, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can cause tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be very common.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. But when it involves “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some locations, such as noisy city streets, can get quite loud. Likewise, anybody who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment worsening their tinnitus.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually trigger tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus is often chronic in nature. Some of the most prevalent noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty 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.
  • Traffic: You might not even recognize how loud traffic can be in heavily populated locations. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these noisy settings.
  • Music: Many individuals will often listen to their music at loud volumes. Tinnitus will often be the outcome if you do this frequently.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long duration. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes reach a loud enough level.

Hearing damage can occur at a far lower volume than people generally expect. Consequently, it’s important to use hearing protection before you think you may need it. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus go away? Perhaps, in some cases. But your symptoms may be permanent in some instances. There’s no way to know which is which at the outset. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage has not happened, resulting in an increased risk of chronic tinnitus in the future.

Individuals often underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its development. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already likely occurred. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Stop damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. You can also get some degree of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recuperate.
  • Lowering the volume of your environment when possible. For instance, you could shut the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial equipment that isn’t in use.

Dealing with symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are frequently a huge distraction and are really uncomfortable for the majority of people who deal with them. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

If you hear a buzzing or ringing sound, it’s essential to make an appointment, especially if the sound won’t go away. We can help you figure out the best way to address your specific situation. There’s no cure for the majority of kinds of chronic tinnitus. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your tinnitus symptoms.
  • White noise devices: In some cases, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your home.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • Retraining therapy: In some situations, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, slowly changing the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been associated with an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be alleviated by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for example.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. That’s why managing your environment to safeguard your hearing is a practical first step.

But tinnitus can be addressed and treated. We’ll be able to establish a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some people, dealing with your tinnitus may simply mean using a white noise machine. In other situations, a more intensive approach may be needed.

Learn how to best manage 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.