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 common 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 too.

While the preponderance of tinnitus may be obvious, the causes are frequently more cloudy. Some of the wide range 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 loud, you may be doing damage to your ears. This environmental tinnitus may 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 noises that aren’t actually present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. The sounds are usually rhythmic in nature. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before solving itself and vanishing. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

Tinnitus is so common for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that contribute to tinnitus are also fairly common (more on that in a bit). The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of a root condition or injury. In other words, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite prevalent for these reasons.

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medications. However, when most individuals talk about “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. Some locations, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Somebody would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for instance, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-induced damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus tends to be chronic in nature. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that many 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 a lot of people talking in an office.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes reach a loud enough level.
  • Music: Listening to music at high volumes is a fairly common practice. Tinnitus will frequently be the outcome if you do this regularly.
  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated locations can be a lot louder than you might expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these noisy environments can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.

People frequently wrongly believe hearing damage will only occur at extreme volume levels. For this reason, hearing protection should be utilized at lower volumes than you may expect. Hearing protection can help you avoid tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

Will tinnitus clear up by itself? Well, in some cases it could. But your symptoms might be permanent in some cases. Initially, it’s basically impossible to know which is which. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t occurred, resulting in an increased chance of chronic tinnitus in the future.

People often underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its advancement. 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 change your environment so as to prevent more permanent damage.

For example, you could try:

  • Stop damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recuperate.
  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. For example, you could close the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial machinery that isn’t in use.

Dealing with symptoms

Lots of people who experience persistent tinnitus find the symptoms to be extremely distracting and uncomfortable. 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’re hearing a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears. We can help you figure out the best way to regulate your specific situation. For most cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of boosting sounds, it masks them. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been linked to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by utilizing relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus.
  • White noise devices: In some cases, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your house.
  • Retraining therapy: In some cases, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.

Tinnitus has no cure. A good first step would be to safeguard your hearing by managing your environment.

But tinnitus can be addressed and treated. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan for you. For some, dealing with your tinnitus may simply mean utilizing a white noise machine. In other cases, 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.