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

Tinnitus is an incredibly common condition of the ear. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people have tinnitus at one time 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.

Sadly, the causes of tinnitus aren’t as obvious as the symptoms. 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 setting is very loud, you may be damaging your hearing. If your tinnitus is a result of damage, it could end up being permanent.

What is tinnitus (and why is it so prevalent)?

Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a sound that isn’t really there. Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. Usually, the sounds are constant or rhythmic. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will happen over a short period of time before resolving itself and going away. In less common cases, tinnitus may become effectively permanent, a condition known as chronic tinnitus.

There are a couple of reasons why tinnitus is so common. Firstly, environmental factors that can contribute to tinnitus are fairly prevalent. The second reason is that tinnitus is usually a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. In other words, there are many such injuries or conditions that can result in tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather common for these reasons.

How can the environment affect tinnitus?

There are a large number of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. However, when most individuals discuss “environment” in terms of tinnitus, they really mean the noise. Some settings, such as noisy city streets, can get quite loud. Somebody would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

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

  • Traffic: You might not even realize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And you might not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you may expect. Long commutes or regular driving in these loud environments can eventually cause hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Noise in the workplace: Many workplaces, including offices, are often the source of loud noises. Tinnitus can eventually result from being in these places for eight hours a day, whether it’s industrial equipment or the din of a lot of people talking in an office.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a pretty common practice. 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 duration. For instance, attending a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes reach a high enough level.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people usually expect. Because of this, hearing protection should be utilized at lower volumes than you might 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? Perhaps, in some instances. In other cases, your symptoms could be irreversible. There’s no way to identify which is which at the beginning. Moreover, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage has not occurred, resulting in an increased risk of chronic tinnitus down the road.

One of the most significant contributing factors to the development of tinnitus is that individuals tend to underestimate the volume at which damage occurs to their ears. If you experience tinnitus, your body is telling you that damage has already likely occurred. If this is the situation, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • Prevent damage by using hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. You can also get some amount of protection from noise canceling headphones.
  • If you’re in a loud setting, limit the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.
  • If possible, try to decrease environmental volume. For instance, you could close the windows if you live in a noisy area or turn off industrial machinery that is not in use.

Dealing with symptoms

Lots of people who experience persistent tinnitus find the symptoms to be tremendously distracting and uncomfortable. This prompts them to attempt to find a way to ease the intensity of their symptoms.

You should call us for an appointment if you are hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. We can help you figure out the best way to manage your specific situation. For most cases of persistent tinnitus, there’s no cure. Symptom management may include the following:

  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually changing the way you process sound.
  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the severity of tinnitus symptoms. So taking a little time to relax (with meditation, for instance) can sometimes help diminish your tinnitus symptoms.
  • White noise devices: In some instances, you can tune out some of your tinnitus symptoms by utilizing a white noise generator around your house.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. The precise calibration of your device will depend on your particular symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus can be drowned out by raising the volume of outside sounds with hearing aids.

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

But treating and controlling tinnitus is possible. 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, might be all that’s required. In other cases, a more intensive approach might be needed.

Set up an appointment to find out how to address your tinnitus symptoms.

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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.
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