Is Your Environment The Cause 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 called tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people have tinnitus at one point or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. The condition is experienced as a sound in the ear that isn’t really there, usually, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds as well.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as obvious as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus could result from a wide variety 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 setting is very loud, you may be damaging your hearing. If your tinnitus is caused by damage, it may end up being permanent.

Why do so many individuals experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t actually there, that’s tinnitus. For the majority of people, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but it may possibly also present as rumbling, humming, screeching, or other sounds as well. Typically, the sounds are steady or rhythmic. For most individuals, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus might become effectively permanent, a condition known 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 fairly common (more on that in a bit). Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are many 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 produce tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Likewise, anybody who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment worsening their tinnitus.

These environmental factors can be exceptionally important 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 a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated locations can be much louder than you might expect it to be. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you might expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the outcome of long commutes in these noisy locations.
  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty noisy. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a pretty common practice. Doing this on a consistent basis can often trigger tinnitus symptoms.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-period. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes get to a loud enough level.

People often mistakenly believe damage to their ears will only occur at extreme volume levels. As a result, it’s important to use 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? Maybe, in some cases. In other situations, your symptoms may be permanent. At first, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage has not happened, resulting in an increased risk of chronic tinnitus down the road.

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 probably happened. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

Here are a few tips you can try:

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

Dealing with symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a huge distraction and are quite uncomfortable for most people who deal with them. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the severity of their symptoms.

You should contact us for an appointment if you are hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We can help you determine the best way to address your particular situation. For the majority of cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Symptom management might include the following:

  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be worsened by high blood pressure. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask 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.
  • Retraining therapy: In some situations, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, slowly modifying the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus can be drowned out by amplifying the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.

Tinnitus has no cure. That’s why controlling 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. For some, dealing with your tinnitus might simply mean using a white noise machine. In other cases, a more extensive approach may be necessary.

Learn how to best control 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.