Is Your Environment The Cause of Your Tinnitus?

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

It’s not uncommon for people to have ringing in their ears, also known as 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. 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 obvious as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus may result from a wide array of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more permanent.

This is why environmental factors can Have a major impact on tinnitus symptoms. After all, every environment has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is loud, you may 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 there, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Normally, the sounds are constant or rhythmic. Tinnitus will normally clear itself up after a short period of time. In less common cases, tinnitus may become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so common for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that contribute to tinnitus are also quite common (more on that soon). Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are a wide variety of conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. As a result, tinnitus tends to be quite common.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medications. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. 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 significant when considering your hearing health.

Noise related damage, as with hearing loss, can cause tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus is often chronic in nature. Here are some of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. For instance, attending a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes get to a high enough level.
  • Noise in the workplace: It might come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty noisy. 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.
  • Music: Many individuals will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Doing this on a regular basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated places can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you may expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these loud settings can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.

Damage to the ears can occur at a far lower volume than people generally expect. Consequently, it’s important to wear hearing protection before you think you may need it. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

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

Will tinnitus clear up on its own? Well, in some instances it may. In other cases, your symptoms may be permanent. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. 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.

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 probably occurred. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent additional damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • If you’re in a loud environment, limit the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.
  • Decreasing the volume of your environment when possible. If you have any machinery that isn’t in use, turn it off, and close the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit in this regard.

How to manage your symptoms

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

If you hear a buzzing or ringing sound, it’s essential to make an appointment, especially if the sound doesn’t go away. We can help you determine the best way to handle your specific situation. For the majority of cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Symptom management might include the following:

  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by amplifying the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated 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 using a white noise generator around your house.
  • 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.

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

But tinnitus can be addressed and managed. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan for you. For some people, dealing with your tinnitus may simply mean using 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.

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