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

Tinnitus is an exceptionally common condition of the ear. It’s one of the most common health conditions in the world with some estimates indicating that up to 10 percent of the population experiences it at one point or another. Even though the most common manifestation of tinnitus is a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ear, it can also present as other sounds as well.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as evident as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus may be caused by a wide variety of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

That’s why your environment can be very important. After all, every environment has a soundscape, and when that soundscape is noisy, you could be causing damage to your ears. This environmental tinnitus may 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)?

When you hear sounds that aren’t actually there, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other noises, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Typically, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. Tinnitus will typically clear itself up after a short time period. 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 play a role in tinnitus are fairly prevalent. The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of a root condition or injury. In other words, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather prevalent for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

There are a large number of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when the majority of individuals talk about “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. For instance, some locations are louder than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Likewise, anyone who works around industrial equipment all day would be at risk of their environment exacerbating their tinnitus.

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

Noise related damage, as with hearing loss, can trigger tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s usually chronic and often permanent. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Traffic: You might not even recognize how loud traffic can be in heavily populated locations. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these loud settings can eventually lead to hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are frequently 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.
  • 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 instances of this type of noise.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a fairly common practice. Tinnitus will often be the result if you do this regularly.

Hearing damage can occur at a much lower volume than people generally expect. Because of this, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you may expect. Noise induced tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

Will tinnitus clear up by itself? Maybe, in some instances. But your symptoms may be permanent in some cases. There’s no way to know which is which at the beginning. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage has not occurred, resulting in an increased chance of chronic tinnitus in the future.

One of the most main contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that individuals 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 happened. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to alter your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

Here are a few tips you can try:

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

How to deal with your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a big distraction and are quite uncomfortable for most individuals who deal with them. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the severity of their symptoms.

If you hear a ringing or buzzing sound, it’s important to schedule an appointment, especially if the sound won’t go away. We will be able to assess your symptoms and determine how best to manage them. For the majority of cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a few ways to manage the symptoms:

  • White noise devices: In some instances, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your home.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the help of a specialist, which will slowly retrain the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by raising the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.
  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of boosting sounds, it masks them. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your particular symptoms.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been linked to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.

Tinnitus has no cure. A great first step would be to protect your hearing by managing your environment.

But tinnitus can be addressed and treated. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan for you. A white noise machine, for many people, might be all that’s necessary. In other cases, a more extensive approach may be necessary.

Set up an appointment to learn how to manage your tinnitus symptoms.

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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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