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 called tinnitus. It’s one of the most common health conditions in the world with some estimates suggesting 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, usually, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds too.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as evident as the symptoms. Some of the wide array of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more permanent.

That’s why your environment can be very important. After all, every setting has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is loud, you could be doing damage to your ears. This environmental tinnitus might sometimes be long lasting or it might 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 really there. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Normally, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. For most individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before solving itself and vanishing. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

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

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

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. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Likewise, anybody 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 very important.

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

  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated areas can be a lot louder than you might expect it to be. And you might not even realize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the outcome of long commutes in these noisy settings.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. 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 pretty common practice. Tinnitus will frequently be the result if you do this frequently.
  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are often the source of loud noises. 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.

Hearing damage can happen at a much lower volume than people generally expect. Consequently, it’s essential to wear hearing protection before you think you might need it. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Perhaps, in some cases. In other situations, your symptoms may be irreversible. There’s no way to know which is which at the outset. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your chance of having your tinnitus return and become chronic is much more probable.

People tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its development. Damage has most likely already happened if you’re experiencing tinnitus. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to alter your environment so as to prevent more permanent damage.

For example, you could try:

  • Stop damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.
  • Decreasing the volume of your environment when possible. For example, you could shut the windows if you live in a loud area or turn off industrial equipment that isn’t in use.
  • If you’re in a loud setting, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears breaks.

Managing symptoms

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

You should call us for an appointment if you are hearing a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears. We will be able to assess your symptoms and figure out how to best deal with them. For most cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Symptom management might include the following:

  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be worsened by high blood pressure. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of amplifying sounds, it masks them. The exact calibration of your device will depend on your particular symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, slowly 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.

Tinnitus is not curable. That’s why managing your environment to protect your hearing is a great first step.

But tinnitus can be addressed and treated. We’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some people, managing your tinnitus may simply mean using a white noise machine. In other situations, a more intensive approach might be needed.

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


Why Are My Ears Ringing?

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.