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 have 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 really there, usually, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can take the form of other sounds also.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as evident as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus could be caused by a wide variety of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

That’s why your environment can be really important. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you may be harming your hearing. If your tinnitus is a result of damage, it may end up being permanent.

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

Tinnitus is a condition that causes you to hear a sound that isn’t really there. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other noises, like screeching, thumping, or humming. The sounds are typically rhythmic in nature. For the majority of 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 known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so common for a couple of reasons. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are rather prevalent. The second reason is that tinnitus is usually a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite common for these reasons.

How is tinnitus impacted by environmental factors?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. However, when the majority of people discuss “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they actually mean the noise. For example, some neighborhoods are noisier than others (traffic noise in some settings can get exceptionally high). Likewise, anyone who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment worsening their tinnitus.

When evaluating the state of your health, these environmental factors are extremely important.

As with hearing loss, noise-induced damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s typically chronic and often permanent. Some of the most common noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes reach a loud enough level.
  • 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.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated areas can be a lot louder than you might expect it to be. And you may not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these loud environments can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Music: Many individuals will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Tinnitus will often be the result if you do this frequently.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people generally expect. For this reason, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you may expect. Hearing protection can help you avoid tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

Will tinnitus go away on its own? Perhaps, in some instances. In other situations, your symptoms could be irreversible. There’s no way to know which is which at the outset. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t occurred, resulting in an increased risk of chronic tinnitus in the future.

People tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to occur, 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. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. For instance, you could shut the windows if you live in a noisy area or turn off industrial machinery that is not in use.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to prevent damage. You can also get some degree of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • Reducing the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

How to manage your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a big distraction and are quite uncomfortable for most people who deal with them. As a result, they frequently ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

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

  • White noise devices: Utilizing a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some cases.
  • Retraining therapy: In some situations, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually modifying the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by boosting the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits similarly to a hearing aid and plays sounds to mask your symptoms. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be aggravated by high blood pressure. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help diminish your tinnitus symptoms.

Tinnitus is not curable. A great first step would be to safeguard your hearing by managing your environment.

But addressing and managing tinnitus is possible. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan for you. A white noise machine, for many individuals, may be all that’s required. For other people, management may be more demanding.

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.