Is Your Tinnitus Being Caused by Your Environment?

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

It isn’t uncommon for people to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one point or another, making it one of the most common health conditions in the world. The condition is experienced 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 too.

While the preponderance of tinnitus may be obvious, the causes are often more opaque. 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 permanent.

That’s why your environment can be critically important. After all, every setting has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is loud, you could be doing damage to your ears. If your tinnitus is caused by damage, it may end up being permanent.

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

When you hear noises that aren’t really there, that’s tinnitus. For the majority of people, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing, but it may possibly also present as rumbling, humming, screeching, or other sounds as well. The sounds are typically rhythmic in nature. Tinnitus will typically clear itself up after a short period of time. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition known 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 quite prevalent. Root conditions and injuries can bring about tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be very common.

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

Other things can also cause tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. However, when most individuals discuss “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For instance, some locations are noisier than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Someone would be in danger of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

Noise induced damage, as with hearing loss, can cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s usually 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 result. Shooting a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this kind of noise.
  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly noisy. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually result in tinnitus.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a fairly common practice. Doing this on a regular basis can frequently cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: You might not even realize how loud traffic can be in densely populated locations. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you may expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these loud environments can eventually lead to hearing damage, including tinnitus.

Hearing damage can occur 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?

So, does tinnitus resolve? Maybe, in some cases. But your symptoms may be permanent in some instances. There’s no way to tell which is which at the beginning. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t happened, leading to an increased risk of chronic tinnitus down the road.

One of the most main contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage occurs to their ears. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already likely occurred. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more permanent damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • If possible, try to lower environmental volume. If you have any machinery that isn’t in use, turn it off, and shut the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

Dealing with symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are frequently a huge distraction and are really unpleasant for the majority of individuals who deal with them. As a result, they often ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

If you hear a ringing or buzzing sound, it’s essential to schedule an appointment, especially if the sound won’t go away. We will be able to evaluate your symptoms and figure out how to best deal with them. For most cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • White noise devices: Using 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 changing the way you process sound.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of amplifying sounds, it masks them. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your specific symptoms.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated by high blood pressure. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. A great first step would be to protect your hearing by controlling your environment.

But tinnitus can be addressed and managed. We’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. A white noise machine, for many, may be all that’s necessary. In other situations, a more extensive approach may be needed.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.