Is Your Tinnitus Stemming From Your Environment?

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

It isn’t uncommon for individuals to have ringing in their ears, also known as tinnitus. It’s one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world with some estimates indicating that up to 10 percent of the population experiences it at one time or another. 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.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as evident as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus may be caused by a wide variety of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

That’s why your environment can be really important. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you may be harming your hearing. This environmental tinnitus might sometimes be permanent or it may sometimes react to changes to make your environment quieter.

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

When you hear sounds that aren’t really there, that’s tinnitus. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but it may also present as thumping, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. The sounds are normally rhythmic in nature. For most individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before resolving itself and vanishing. 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 quite prevalent. Underlying conditions and injuries can bring about tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather common for these reasons.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

There are a large number of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. But when it involves “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some locations, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Somebody would be in danger of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

When evaluating the state of your health, these environmental factors are really significant.

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s typically chronic and frequently permanent. Some of the most common noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-frame. Firing a gun or going to a rock concert are instances of this type of noise.
  • Noise in the workplace: It might come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly noisy. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated areas can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And you might not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the outcome of long commutes in these loud settings.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a pretty common practice. Tinnitus will often be the outcome if you do this regularly.

People frequently mistakenly think damage to their ears will only happen at extreme volume levels. Because of this, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you might expect. Hearing protection can help you avoid tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

If I’m experiencing tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus resolve? Perhaps, in some cases. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some instances. There’s no way to know which is which at the beginning. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your risk of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is a lot more likely.

One of the most main contributing factors to the advancement of tinnitus is that individuals tend to underestimate the volume at which damage occurs to their ears. Damage has likely already happened if you’re experiencing tinnitus. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

For example, you could try:

  • If you’re in a loud environment, limit the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.
  • Stop damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • If possible, try to lower environmental volume. For instance, you could shut the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial machinery that is not in use.

Managing symptoms

Many people who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be extremely disruptive and uncomfortable. As a result, they often ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

You should call us for an appointment if you’re hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We will be able to evaluate your symptoms and determine how best to manage them. There’s no cure for most kinds of chronic tinnitus. Symptom management might include the following:

  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds to mask your symptoms. Your device will be specifically calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by boosting the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some cases.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the help of a specialist, which will progressively retrain the way you process sound.

Tinnitus is not curable. A great first step would be to safeguard your hearing by managing your environment.

But treating and managing tinnitus is possible. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan for you. A white noise machine, for many, may be all that’s necessary. For others, management might be more intense.

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

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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