Hearing Health Blog

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

It isn’t unusual 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 point or another. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, typically, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds also.

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

This is why environmental factors can play a major role in tinnitus symptoms. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, 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?

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a noise that isn’t actually there. For the majority of people, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing, but it might also present as rumbling, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. Typically, the sounds are constant or rhythmic. For the majority of people, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before resolving itself and vanishing. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so common. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are quite common. The second reason is that tinnitus is usually a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. Put simply, there are many such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be rather common.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when most people talk about “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For instance, some locations are louder than others (traffic noise in some settings can get exceptionally high). Likewise, anybody who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment exacerbating their tinnitus.

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

Noise related damage, as with hearing loss, can activate tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is a result of noise damage, it’s usually chronic and often permanent. Here are some of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Traffic: You might not even realize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you might expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these noisy settings.
  • Noise in the workplace: It could come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty noisy. Tinnitus can eventually result from being in these places for eight hours a day, whether it’s industrial equipment or the din of lots of people talking in an office.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-frame. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes get to a high enough level.
  • Music: Many people will often listen to their music at loud volumes. Doing this on a regular basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.

People often wrongly believe damage to their ears will only happen at extreme volume levels. Consequently, it’s crucial to use hearing protection before you think you may need it. Noise related tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

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

Will tinnitus clear up on its own? Maybe, in some instances. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some cases. At first, it’s basically impossible to know which is which. If you have tinnitus due to noise damage, even if your tinnitus does clear up, your risk of having your tinnitus return and become chronic is a lot more likely.

One of the most significant contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage occurs to their ears. Damage has likely already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the situation, finding and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent additional damage.

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Stop damage by utilizing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit in this regard.
  • If you’re in a noisy environment, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears breaks.
  • Decreasing the volume of your environment where possible. If you have any machinery that’s not in use, turn it off, and close the windows if it’s noisy outside, for example.

Managing symptoms

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

You should give us a call for an appointment if you are hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We will be able to assess your symptoms and figure out how to best address them. There’s no cure for the majority of types of chronic tinnitus. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be worsened by high blood pressure. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help diminish your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by raising the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.
  • White noise devices: In some instances, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your home.
  • 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.

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

But addressing and managing tinnitus is possible. We’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some, dealing with your tinnitus may simply mean utilizing a white noise machine. In other situations, a more intensive approach might be needed.

Learn how to best control your tinnitus by making an appointment right away!

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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.
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