Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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

It isn’t uncommon for individuals to have ringing in their ears, also known as tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one time or another, making it one of the most common health conditions in the world. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, typically, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can take the form of 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 array of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be very important. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you could be harming your hearing. This environmental tinnitus might sometimes be long lasting or it may sometimes react to changes to make your environment quieter.

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

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a noise that isn’t actually there. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Typically, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. For most individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before solving itself and vanishing. 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 play a role in tinnitus are also relatively common (more on that in a bit). The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite common for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

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 locations are louder than others (traffic noise in some areas can get extraordinarily high). Somebody would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for instance, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

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

  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated locations can be much louder than you might expect it to be. And you may not even realize 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.
  • Noise in the workplace: It might come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes result from loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-frame. Shooting a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this type of noise.
  • Music: Listening to music at high volumes is a fairly common practice. Tinnitus will frequently be the outcome if you do this regularly.

Damage to the ears can occur at a much lower volume than people generally expect. As a result, it’s important to wear hearing protection before you think you may 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. But your symptoms may be permanent in some cases. Initially, 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 advancement of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage occurs to their ears. Damage has probably already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

For example, you could try:

  • Prevent damage by utilizing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. You can also get some degree of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. For example, you could close the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial equipment that is not in use.
  • Reducing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

How to handle your symptoms

Lots of individuals who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be enormously disruptive and unpleasant. Because of this, they often ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

If you hear a buzzing or ringing sound, it’s essential to schedule an appointment, especially if the sound doesn’t go away. We can help you figure out the best way to regulate your specific situation. For most cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

  • 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.
  • White noise devices: In some instances, 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, gradually modifying the way you process sound.
  • 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.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus.

Tinnitus has no cure. A good 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, might be all that’s needed. For others, management may be more demanding.

Schedule an appointment to learn how to regulate 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.