Is Your Tinnitus Stemming From Your Environment?

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

Tinnitus is an incredibly common condition of the ear. 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. 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.

Sadly, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as obvious as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus could result from a wide variety of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be very important. If the background sound of your particular environment is very loud, you might be damaging your hearing. This environmental tinnitus might 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 noise that isn’t actually 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 consistent or rhythmic. For most people, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so prevalent. The first is that the environmental factors that play a role in tinnitus are also relatively common (more on that soon). The second reason is that tinnitus is usually a symptom of a root condition or injury. In other words, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can result in tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be very common.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some locations, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Someone 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 very significant.

Noise induced damage, as with hearing loss, can activate tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s normally chronic and often permanent. Here are some of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: It could come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around constant workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long duration. Firing a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this kind of noise.
  • Traffic: You might not even recognize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these loud settings can eventually result in hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Music: Many people will often listen to their music at high volumes. Doing this on a consistent basis can frequently trigger tinnitus symptoms.

People often wrongly believe damage to their ears will only occur at extreme volume levels. For this reason, hearing protection should be utilized at lower volumes than you may expect. Noise associated tinnitus symptoms can often be avoided altogether by doing this.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus go away? Well, in some cases it could. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some instances. There’s no way to know which is which at the outset. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage has not happened, resulting in an increased risk of chronic tinnitus in the future.

One of the most significant 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 probably happened. This means that there are several things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. If you have any machinery that’s not in use, turn it off, and shut the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.
  • If you’re in a loud environment, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears breaks.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.

How to deal with your symptoms

Lots of people who experience persistent tinnitus find the symptoms to be enormously disruptive and unpleasant. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the severity of their symptoms.

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

  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some cases.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus can be drowned out by boosting the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the help of a specialist, which will gradually retrain the way you process sound.

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

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 individuals, may be all that’s needed. For others, management might be more demanding.

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


References

Why Are My Ears Ringing?

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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