Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

It’s not unusual for individuals 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 point 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 prevalence of tinnitus may be evident, the causes are often more opaque. Some of the wide array of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be really important. After all, every setting has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is noisy, you might be doing damage to your ears. If your tinnitus is due to damage, it could end up being permanent.

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

Tinnitus is a condition that causes you to hear a sound that isn’t really there. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Typically, the sounds are steady or rhythmic. For most individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before solving 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 quite common. Root conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are many such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite prevalent for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when the majority of individuals talk about “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they actually mean the noise. For instance, some neighborhoods are noisier than others (traffic noise in some areas can get extremely high). Someone would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus is often chronic in nature. Here are a few of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short intervals, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. Firing a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this kind of noise.
  • Noise in the workplace: Lots of workplaces, including offices, are frequently the source of loud noises. Tinnitus can eventually result from being in these settings for eight hours a day, whether it’s industrial equipment or the din of a lot of people talking in an office.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a pretty common practice. Tinnitus will often be the outcome if you do this frequently.
  • Traffic: You might not even realize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And you may not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these noisy environments can eventually result in hearing damage, including tinnitus.

Damage to the ears can occur at a much lower volume than people generally expect. For this reason, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you might expect. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Maybe, in some cases. But your symptoms might be permanent in some instances. 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 has not occurred, leading to an increased chance of chronic tinnitus in the future.

One of the most main contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage happens to their ears. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already likely occurred. This means that there are several things that you should do to alter your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • Prevent damage by utilizing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. 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 close the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.
  • If you’re in a noisy setting, limit the amount of exposure time and give your ears breaks.

Managing symptoms

Many individuals who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously disruptive and uncomfortable. Because of this, they often ask: how do you calm tinnitus?

You should contact us for an appointment if you’re hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We can help you figure out the best way to manage your particular situation. For most cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds to mask your symptoms. The exact calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: In some cases, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, slowly changing the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated by high blood pressure. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be alleviated by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • White noise devices: Utilizing a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by amplifying the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.

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 managed. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan for you. For some people, dealing with your tinnitus might simply mean utilizing a white noise machine. In other situations, a more extensive 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.