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

It’s not unusual for people to have ringing in their ears, also known as tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one point or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. 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.

While the prevalence of tinnitus might be evident, the causes are often more opaque. In part, that’s because tinnitus could be caused by a wide array of causes, some of which are temporary and others that can be more long lasting.

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

Why do so many individuals experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t really there, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. The sounds are normally rhythmic in nature. For the majority of people, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before solving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

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 result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite prevalent for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

Other things can also trigger tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. But when it involves “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. For instance, some neighborhoods are louder than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Someone would be in danger of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

When evaluating the state of your health, these environmental factors are extremely significant.

Noise induced damage, as with hearing loss, can activate tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is caused by noise damage, it’s typically chronic and frequently permanent. Some of the most prevalent noise and environment-related causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Music: Many individuals will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Tinnitus will frequently be the result if you do this regularly.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long time-frame. For example, 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 places can be much louder than you might expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these noisy settings can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • 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.

People often wrongly think hearing damage will only happen at extreme volume levels. For this reason, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you may expect. Noise related tinnitus symptoms can often be avoided altogether by doing this.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

So, does tinnitus resolve? Well, in some instances it might. But your symptoms may be irreversible in some cases. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has reseeded doesn’t mean that noise damage has not occurred, leading to an increased risk of chronic tinnitus in the future.

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. Damage has probably already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. This means that there are a number of things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more irreparable damage.

For example, you could try:

  • 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 machinery that isn’t in use.
  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.
  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to prevent damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.

Managing symptoms

Many individuals who experience persistent tinnitus find the symptoms to be enormously distracting and unpleasant. This prompts them to try and find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

You should give us a call for an appointment if you’re hearing a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears. We will be able to assess your symptoms and determine how to best manage them. There’s no cure for the majority of kinds of chronic tinnitus. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been associated with an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the help of a specialist, which will progressively retrain the way you process sound.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds to mask your symptoms. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. That’s why controlling your environment to safeguard your hearing is a great first step.

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. A white noise machine, for many, may be all that’s necessary. In other situations, a more intensive approach might be necessary.

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

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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.