Is Your Environment The Cause of Your Tinnitus?

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 indicate that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one time 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, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds too.

While the preponderance of tinnitus might be evident, the causes are frequently more cloudy. Some of the wide range of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more long term.

This is why environmental factors can Have a major impact on tinnitus symptoms. After all, every environment has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is noisy, you may be causing damage to your ears. If your tinnitus is due to damage, it could end up being permanent.

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

When you hear noises that aren’t really present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other noises, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Normally, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. Tinnitus will normally clear itself up after a short time period. 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. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are quite common. Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are quite a few conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be quite common.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medications. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest offender. For example, some neighborhoods are louder than others (traffic noise in some areas can get exceptionally high). Likewise, anybody who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment worsening their tinnitus.

These environmental factors can be incredibly important when considering your hearing health.

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually trigger tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s usually chronic and frequently permanent. Here are some of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. For example, going to a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes reach a high enough level.
  • Music: Many individuals will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Doing this on a consistent basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated areas can be much louder than you may expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these loud settings.
  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are often the source of loud noises. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.

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

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus resolve? Well, in some cases it could. But your symptoms might be irreversible in some instances. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your chance of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is much more probable.

Individuals tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its advancement. Damage has likely already happened if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent further damage.

For example, you could try:

  • Lowering the volume of your environment when possible. For instance, you could close the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial machinery that is not in use.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in loud environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.

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 call us for an appointment if you’re hearing a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears. We can help you determine the best way to manage your particular situation. There’s no cure for most kinds of chronic tinnitus. Symptom management might include the following:

  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • 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. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.

Tinnitus has no cure. That’s why managing your environment to protect your hearing is a practical 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. A white noise machine, for many individuals, may be all that’s required. In other cases, a more intensive approach might be needed.

Make an appointment to learn how to address your tinnitus symptoms.

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.