Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

Tinnitus is an incredibly common condition of the ear. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one time or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can take the form of other sounds too.

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

That’s why your environment can be critically important. If the background sound of your particular setting is very noisy, you might be harming your hearing. If your tinnitus is caused by damage, it could end up being permanent.

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. Normally, the sounds are constant or rhythmic. For most individuals, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before resolving itself and vanishing. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

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 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. As a result, tinnitus tends to be rather common.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. However, when most individuals discuss “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they really mean the noise. Some locations, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. 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-related damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is caused by noise damage, it’s typically chronic and often permanent. Here are a few of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by 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 kind of noise.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated areas can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these loud settings.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a fairly common practice. Doing this on a regular basis can frequently result in tinnitus symptoms.
  • Noise in the workplace: Lots of workplaces, including offices, are frequently the source of loud noises. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.

Damage to the ears can occur at a much lower volume than people usually expect. Because of this, hearing protection should be utilized at lower volumes than you may expect. Noise associated tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

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

Will tinnitus clear up by itself? Well, in some instances it might. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some cases. There’s no way to know which is which at the outset. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t happened, leading to 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 occurs to their ears. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already probably happened. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent additional damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to prevent damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit in this regard.
  • If possible, try to lower 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 example.
  • If you’re in a loud setting, limit the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.

Managing symptoms

Many people who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously disruptive and unpleasant. As a result, they often ask: how do you calm tinnitus?

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

  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some cases.
  • 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 progressively retrain the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated by high blood pressure. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. The exact calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. A good first step would be to protect your hearing by managing your environment.

But addressing and controlling tinnitus is possible. We’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan according to your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some people, dealing with your tinnitus might simply mean using a white noise machine. In other situations, a more extensive approach might be needed.

Schedule an appointment to find out how to regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

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.