Is Your Tinnitus Stemming From Your Environment?

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

It’s not uncommon for people to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. 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. Even though 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 cloudy. 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 long lasting.

That’s why your environment can be very important. If the background sound of your particular setting is very noisy, you may be damaging your hearing. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it might sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

What is tinnitus (and why is it so common)?

When you hear sounds that aren’t actually there, that’s tinnitus. For most individuals, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing, but it might also present as thumping, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. Usually, the sounds are steady or rhythmic. Tinnitus will typically clear itself up after a short period of time. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so prevalent. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are quite prevalent. Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. As a result, tinnitus tends to be quite common.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

There are a large number of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when most individuals discuss “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For instance, some neighborhoods are noisier than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Someone would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

When assessing the state of your health, these environmental factors are really significant.

Noise related damage, as with hearing loss, can cause tinnitus symptoms. In these cases, the resulting tinnitus tends to be chronic in nature. Some of the most prevalent noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • 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 kind of noise.
  • Noise in the workplace: It could come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly 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: Listening to music at high volumes is a pretty common practice. Doing this on a regular basis can frequently trigger tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: You may not even recognize how loud traffic can be in heavily populated places. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these loud settings can eventually lead to hearing damage, including tinnitus.

People frequently wrongly believe hearing damage will only occur at extreme volume levels. Consequently, it’s important to wear hearing protection before you think you might need it. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Well, in some instances it may. But your symptoms may be permanent in some cases. Initially, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. If you have tinnitus because of noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your chance of having your tinnitus come back 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 development. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already likely happened. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Prevent damage by utilizing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. 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.
  • Decreasing the volume of your environment when possible. If you have any machinery that’s not in use, turn it off, and shut the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.

Dealing with symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are frequently a huge distraction and are quite unpleasant for most individuals who deal with them. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

If you hear a buzzing or ringing sound, it’s important to make an appointment, particularly if the sound doesn’t go away. We will be able to assess your symptoms and figure out how best to address them. There’s no cure for most forms of chronic tinnitus. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

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

Tinnitus has no cure. That’s why managing your environment to protect your hearing is a great first step.

But addressing 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 required. In other cases, a more extensive approach might be necessary.

Make an appointment to learn how to manage 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.