Is Your Tinnitus Stemming From Your Environment?

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

Tinnitus is an incredibly common condition of the ear. 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 time or another. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t really there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds also.

While the preponderance of tinnitus might be evident, the causes are frequently more cloudy. In part, that’s because tinnitus could be caused by a wide array of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

This is why environmental factors can Have a major impact on tinnitus symptoms. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you could be harming your hearing. If your tinnitus is due to damage, it could end up being permanent.

Why do so many people experience tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a sound that isn’t actually there. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Normally, the sounds are steady or rhythmic. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will occur 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. The first is that the environmental factors that contribute to tinnitus are also quite common (more on that soon). Underlying conditions and injuries can bring about tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can cause tinnitus. As a result, tinnitus tends to be quite common.

How is tinnitus impacted by environmental factors?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when most individuals discuss “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For instance, some neighborhoods are noisier than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Somebody 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-induced damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s normally chronic and frequently permanent. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Music: Many individuals will often listen to their music at loud volumes. Doing this on a regular basis can frequently cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Noise in the workplace: It could come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated locations can be a lot louder than you might expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these loud settings can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short stretches, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. Shooting a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this type of noise.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people usually expect. As a result, it’s essential to wear hearing protection before you think you might need it. Noise induced tinnitus symptoms can often be avoided altogether by doing this.

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

So, does tinnitus resolve? Well, in some instances it might. In other situations, your symptoms may be irreversible. At first, it’s basically impossible to know which is which. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does clear up, your chance of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is much more probable.

People often underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts 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. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent further damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • Prevent damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit in this regard.
  • Reducing the volume of your environment where 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.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

How to manage your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a huge distraction and are quite unpleasant for most 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 ringing or buzzing sound, it’s essential to schedule an appointment, particularly if the sound doesn’t go away. We will be able to evaluate your symptoms and determine how to best address them. There’s no cure for the majority of forms of chronic tinnitus. Symptom management may include the following:

  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside 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 modifying the way you process sound.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some cases.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of amplifying sounds, it masks them. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. That’s why managing your environment to safeguard your hearing is a great 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 people, dealing with your tinnitus may simply mean using a white noise machine. For other people, management might be more demanding.

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.