Is Your Tinnitus Being Caused by Your Environment?

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. 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 time 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 take the form of other sounds as well.

Unfortunately, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as evident as the symptoms. In part, that’s because tinnitus could result from a wide range of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

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 may be harming your hearing. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it may sometimes react to changes to make your environment quieter.

Why do so many individuals experience tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a sound that isn’t really there. For most individuals, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but it may perhaps also present as thumping, humming, screeching, or other sounds as well. The sounds are normally rhythmic in nature. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will manifest over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. Though not as common, chronic tinnitus is effectively permanent.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so prevalent. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are fairly common. Root conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are lots of conditions and injuries that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather common for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

Other things can also produce tinnitus, including ototoxic medicines and chemicals. However, when most individuals talk about “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get quite loud. Somebody would be in danger of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

When assessing the state of your health, these environmental factors are very significant.

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually trigger 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:

  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that lots of workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly noisy. 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: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. For example, attending a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes get to a loud enough level.
  • Music: Many individuals will frequently listen to their music at high volumes. Doing this on a regular basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated areas can be much louder than you might expect it to be. And you might not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these loud environments can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.

People often wrongly think hearing damage will only occur at extreme volume levels. Because of this, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you might expect. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus resolve? Maybe, in some instances. In other situations, your symptoms could be permanent. There’s no way to tell which is which at the beginning. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your risk of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is much more likely.

One of the most main contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage happens to their ears. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already probably happened. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent additional damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Reducing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.
  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. For example, you could close the windows if you live in a noisy area or turn off industrial machinery that isn’t in use.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.

How to deal with your symptoms

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

If you hear a ringing or buzzing sound, it’s important to make an appointment, particularly if the sound doesn’t go away. We will be able to evaluate your symptoms and figure out how best to deal with them. There’s no cure for the majority of types of chronic tinnitus. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • 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: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus.
  • Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be aggravated by high blood pressure. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • White noise devices: Utilizing a white noise device around your home 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. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.

Tinnitus has no cure. That’s why controlling your environment to safeguard your hearing is a practical first step.

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 needed. In other cases, a more extensive approach might be necessary.

Set up an appointment to find out how to manage 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.