Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

Tinnitus is an extremely common condition of the ear. 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.

While the preponderance of tinnitus might be obvious, the causes are frequently more opaque. Some of the wide variety of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more long term.

This is why environmental factors can play a major role in tinnitus symptoms. After all, every environment has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is loud, you could be causing damage to your ears. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it might sometimes react to changes to make your environment quieter.

Why do so many people experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t really present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Usually, the sounds are constant or rhythmic. For most people, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus might become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so common. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are quite prevalent. The second reason is that tinnitus is usually a symptom of a root condition or injury. And there are quite a few conditions and injuries that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather common for these reasons.

How is tinnitus impacted by environmental factors?

Other things can also produce tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. However, when the majority of individuals discuss “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For example, some neighborhoods are louder than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Someone 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 trigger tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s usually chronic and frequently permanent. Here are some of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are often the source of loud noises. Tinnitus can eventually result from being in these places for eight hours a day, whether it’s industrial equipment or the din of a lot of people talking in an office.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated places can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these noisy environments can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Music: Many people will often listen to their music at loud volumes. Tinnitus will frequently be the outcome if you do this frequently.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-period. Firing a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this type of noise.

Damage to the ears can occur at a much lower volume than people usually expect. Consequently, it’s important to use hearing protection before you think you may need it. Noise associated tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Well, in some cases it may. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some cases. Initially, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. If you have tinnitus due to noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your risk of having your tinnitus return and become chronic is a lot more likely.

Individuals tend to 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 probably happened. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to alter your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

For example, you could try:

  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit 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 lower environmental volume. For example, you could shut the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial machinery that is not in use.

How to manage your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a big distraction and are really uncomfortable for most individuals who deal with them. This prompts them to attempt to find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

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

  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the assistance of a specialist, which will slowly retrain the way you process sound.
  • 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 tinnitus symptoms.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be worsened by high blood pressure. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help decrease 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 house.

Tinnitus has no cure. That’s why controlling your environment to safeguard your hearing is a practical first step.

But addressing and controlling tinnitus is possible. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan for you. For some, managing your tinnitus might simply mean using a white noise machine. For others, management might be more intense.

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.

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