Is Your Tinnitus Being Caused by Your Environment?

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 common 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 too.

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

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 could be harming your hearing. This environmental tinnitus might sometimes be long lasting or it might sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

Why do so many people experience tinnitus?

When you hear noises that aren’t really there, that’s tinnitus. For most individuals, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing, but it may perhaps also present as rumbling, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. The sounds are typically rhythmic in nature. Tinnitus will normally clear itself up after a short period of time. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so common for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that contribute to tinnitus are also fairly common (more on that soon). Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. Put simply, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather common for these reasons.

How can the environment impact tinnitus?

There are a wide variety of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medications. However, when the majority of people discuss “environment” when it comes to tinnitus, they actually mean the noise. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get quite loud. Someone would be in danger of environmental tinnitus, for instance, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-associated damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s typically chronic and often permanent. Some of the most common noise and environment-induced causes of tinnitus include the following:

  • Noise in the workplace: It could come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are pretty noisy. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Events: Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by loud noises, even if they aren’t experienced over a long duration. Firing a gun or going to a rock concert are examples of this kind of noise.
  • Traffic: You may not even recognize how loud traffic can be in heavily populated locations. And you might not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you may expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these noisy locations.
  • Music: Many people will frequently listen to their music at high volumes. Tinnitus will frequently be the result if you do this regularly.

Damage to the ears can occur at a far lower volume than people generally 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.

What should I do if I’m experiencing tinnitus?

So, does tinnitus go away? Maybe, in some instances. In other situations, your symptoms may be permanent. At first, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. If you have tinnitus because of noise damage, even if your tinnitus does go away, your risk of having your tinnitus come back and become chronic is a lot more probable.

One of the most significant contributing factors to the advancement of tinnitus is that people tend to underestimate the volume at which damage happens to their ears. Damage has most likely already happened if you’re experiencing tinnitus. This means that there are several things that you should do to change your environment so as to prevent more permanent damage.

For example, you could try:

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

Dealing with symptoms

Many individuals who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously distracting and unpleasant. Because of this, they frequently ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

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

  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking some time to relax (with meditation, for example) can sometimes help diminish your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually modifying the way you process sound.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of amplifying sounds, it masks them. Your device will be specifically calibrated to mask your symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • White noise devices: In some cases, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by using a white noise generator around your house.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. That’s why managing your environment to protect your hearing is a practical first step.

But tinnitus can be managed and treated. We’ll be able to develop a specific treatment plan based on your hearing, your tinnitus, and your lifestyle. For some, dealing with your tinnitus might simply mean utilizing a white noise machine. For others, management might be more demanding.

Set up an appointment to find out how to regulate 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.