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

It’s not unusual for people to have ringing in their ears, also called tinnitus. Some estimates suggest that 10 percent of people experience tinnitus at one time or another, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world. The condition is experienced as a sound in the ear that isn’t really there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can manifest as other sounds as well.

Unfortunately, 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 permanent.

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

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

When you hear sounds that aren’t actually present, that’s tinnitus. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but it could also present as thumping, humming, screeching, or other noises as well. Normally, the sounds are consistent or rhythmic. For the majority of individuals, tinnitus will occur over a short period of time before resolving itself and vanishing. 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 rather prevalent. Root conditions and injuries can bring about tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. In other words, there are lots of such injuries or conditions that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is rather prevalent for these reasons.

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

There are a large number of factors that can bring about tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medicines. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest offender. For example, some locations are louder than others (traffic noise in some areas can get exceptionally high). 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 extremely important.

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually trigger tinnitus symptoms. When tinnitus is due to noise damage, it’s typically chronic and frequently permanent. Here are some of the most common noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short periods, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. For instance, attending a concert or using firearms can both lead to tinnitus if the volumes get to a high enough level.
  • Noise in the workplace: It might come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly noisy. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around continuous workplace noise can eventually result in tinnitus.
  • Music: Listening to music at loud volumes is a pretty common practice. Doing this on a consistent basis can frequently result in tinnitus symptoms.
  • Traffic: You might not even recognize how loud traffic can be in heavily populated locations. And you may not even recognize that your ears can be damaged at lower volumes than you might expect. Tinnitus and hearing damage can be the result of long commutes in these noisy settings.

Damage to the ears can happen at a much lower volume than people usually expect. For this reason, hearing protection should be utilized 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?

Will tinnitus clear up by itself? Well, in some instances it could. But your symptoms might be irreversible in some cases. Initially, it’s basically impossible to tell which is which. Likewise, just because your tinnitus has gone away for now doesn’t mean that noise damage hasn’t happened, leading to an increased chance 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 happens to their ears. Damage has probably already occurred if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the case, identifying and changing the source of the noise damage is essential to prevent further damage.

Here are some tips you can try:

  • If you’re in a loud setting, regulate the amount of exposure time and give your ears rests.
  • If possible, try to lower environmental volume. If you have any machinery that’s not in use, turn it off, and shut the windows if it’s noisy outside, for instance.
  • Using hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to prevent damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.

Managing symptoms

Lots of individuals who experience chronic tinnitus find the symptoms to be enormously disruptive and uncomfortable. As a result, they frequently ask: how do you quiet tinnitus?

If you hear a ringing or buzzing sound, it’s important to make an appointment, especially if the sound doesn’t go away. We will be able to evaluate your symptoms and identify how to best manage them. There’s no cure for the majority of types of chronic tinnitus. Symptom management may include the following:

  • Relaxation techniques: High blood pressure has sometimes been connected to an increase in the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. Your tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be eased by using relaxation techniques like meditation, for example.
  • Hearing aid: This can help amplify other sounds and, as a result, drown out the ringing or buzzing produced by tinnitus.
  • 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.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually modifying the way you process sound.
  • White noise devices: Using a white noise device around your house can help you tune out your tinnitus in some instances.

There’s no cure for tinnitus. A great first step would be to safeguard your hearing by managing your environment.

But tinnitus can be addressed and treated. 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, may be all that’s needed. For others, management might be more demanding.

Make an appointment to learn how to regulate your tinnitus symptoms.

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