Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

It’s not uncommon for individuals 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. 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.

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

This is why environmental factors can play a major role in tinnitus symptoms. If the background sound of your particular setting is very loud, you might be damaging your hearing. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be long lasting or it might sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

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

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a sound that isn’t really there. 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 happen over a short period of time before solving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition referred to as chronic tinnitus.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so prevalent. Firstly, environmental factors that can play a role in tinnitus are rather common. The second reason is that tinnitus is frequently a symptom of a root condition or injury. Put simply, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather prevalent for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. However, when most people talk about “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they really mean the noise. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Someone would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, 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 normally chronic and often permanent. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated locations can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these noisy settings can eventually result in hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Noise in the workplace: Many 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 constant workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Music: Listening to music at high volumes is a fairly common practice. Tinnitus will often be the result if you do this regularly.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-period. Shooting a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this kind of noise.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people generally expect. For this reason, hearing protection should be utilized at lower volumes than you may expect. Noise related tinnitus symptoms can often be avoided altogether by doing this.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Well, in some instances it could. In other cases, your symptoms could be permanent. Initially, it’s basically impossible to know which is which. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t occurred, resulting in an increased chance of chronic tinnitus down the road.

People tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts to occur, which is the most significant contributing factor to its advancement. Damage has likely already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent additional damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Prevent damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • 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 example.
  • Reducing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recuperate.

Managing symptoms

Many people who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously distracting and unpleasant. This prompts them to attempt to 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 identify how to best manage them. For the majority of cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, slowly changing the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus.
  • White noise devices: In some instances, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by using a white noise generator around your house.
  • 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 example.

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

But tinnitus can be managed and treated. We’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan according to your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. A white noise machine, for many, might be all that’s required. For other people, management may be more demanding.

Make an appointment to learn how to address 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.