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

Tinnitus is an extremely common condition of the ear. Some estimates indicate that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one point or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. Although the most common manifestation of tinnitus is a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ear, it can also present as other sounds too.

While the preponderance of tinnitus may be evident, the causes are often more cloudy. Some of the wide variety of tinnitus causes are temporary, while others can be more long term.

That’s why your environment can be very important. If the background sound of your particular environment is very noisy, you might be damaging your hearing. If your tinnitus is caused by damage, it may end up being permanent.

Why do so many people experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t really present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus typically 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 most people, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before solving itself and vanishing. In less common cases, tinnitus might become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so prevalent for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that contribute to tinnitus are also relatively common (more on that in a bit). Root conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are many such injuries or conditions that can cause tinnitus. Consequently, tinnitus tends to be rather common.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

Other things can also trigger tinnitus, including ototoxic medications and chemicals. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get very loud. Someone would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for instance, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-induced damage can eventually trigger tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus tends to be chronic in nature. Here are a few of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are often the source of loud noises. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around constant workplace noise can eventually result in tinnitus.
  • Traffic: Traffic in densely populated locations can be a lot louder than you might expect it to be. And noise damage can occur at a lower volume than you may expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these loud settings can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short stretches, tinnitus can sometimes be the outcome. For example, going to a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes get to a loud enough level.
  • Music: Many people will frequently listen to their music at loud volumes. Tinnitus will often be the outcome if you do this frequently.

Hearing damage can occur at a much lower volume than people usually expect. For this reason, hearing protection should be used at lower volumes than you may expect. Hearing protection can help prevent tinnitus symptoms from developing in the first place.

If I’m experiencing tinnitus, what should I do?

Will tinnitus go away on its own? Well, in some instances it might. In other situations, your symptoms could be irreversible. At first, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. If you have tinnitus caused by noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your chance of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is a lot more likely.

People often underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its advancement. 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 permanent damage.

For instance, you could try:

  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • If you’re in a noisy environment, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.
  • Lowering the volume of your environment when possible. If you have any machinery that’s not in use, turn it off, and close the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.

How to manage your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are often a big distraction and are really unpleasant for the majority of people who deal with them. This prompts them to attempt to find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

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

  • White noise devices: Utilizing a white noise device around your home can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.
  • Retraining therapy: You can sometimes retrain your ears with the assistance of a specialist, which will gradually retrain the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been linked to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, but instead of boosting sounds, it masks them. Your device will be specially calibrated to mask your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify outside sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing created by 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. Depending on your lifestyle, your hearing, and your tinnitus, we’ll be able to formulate a specific treatment plan for you. A white noise machine, for many people, might be all that’s needed. In other situations, a more intensive approach may be needed.

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.