Is Your Environment The Source of Your Tinnitus?

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 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 really there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds too.

Sadly, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as obvious as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus may be caused by a wide range of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more permanent.

This is why environmental factors can play a major role in tinnitus symptoms. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you might be harming your hearing. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it might sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

Why do so many individuals experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t actually present, that’s tinnitus. For the majority of people, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing, but it may possibly also present as thumping, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. Typically, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. Tinnitus will normally clear itself up after a short time period. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition referred to as chronic tinnitus.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so common. The first is that the environmental factors that play a role in tinnitus are also relatively common (more on that soon). The second reason is that tinnitus is often a symptom of a root condition or injury. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can trigger tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be rather common.

How is tinnitus impacted by environmental factors?

There are a wide variety of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get really loud. Someone would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-induced damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is caused by noise damage, it’s typically chronic and frequently permanent. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. For instance, going to a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes reach a loud enough level.
  • Traffic: Traffic in heavily populated locations 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 loud locations.
  • Music: Many people will frequently listen to their music at high volumes. Doing this on a consistent basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Noise in the workplace: It might come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or chatty office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around constant workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.

Damage to the ears can happen 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 related tinnitus symptoms can often be avoided altogether by doing this.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

Will tinnitus clear up on its own? Perhaps, in some cases. But your symptoms may be permanent in some cases. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. If you have tinnitus due to noise damage, even if your tinnitus does clear up, your risk of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is much more likely.

Individuals tend to underestimate the minimum volume that damage begins to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its development. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already probably occurred. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent further damage.

For example, you could try:

  • If you’re in a loud setting, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears breaks.
  • Prevent damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Noise canceling headphones can also be a benefit in this regard.
  • If possible, try to lower environmental volume. For example, you could close the windows if you live in a noisy area or turn off industrial equipment that isn’t in use.

How to deal with your symptoms

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

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

  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the assistance of a specialist, which will slowly retrain the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been associated with an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by utilizing relaxation techniques like meditation, for instance.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus can be drowned out by boosting the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds to mask your symptoms. The exact calibration of your device will depend on your particular symptoms.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.

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

But addressing and managing tinnitus is possible. We’ll be able to develop 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. For other people, management might be more intense.

Schedule 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.