Florida Hearing Matters - Fort Lauderdale, FL

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

Tinnitus is an exceptionally common condition of the ear. Some estimates indicate that 10 percent of people have tinnitus at one point or another, making it one of the most common health conditions in the world. The condition manifests as a sound in the ear that isn’t actually there, normally, it’s a buzzing or ringing, but tinnitus can take the form of other sounds as well.

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

This is why environmental factors can play a major role in tinnitus symptoms. If the background sound of your particular setting is very noisy, you might be damaging your hearing. This environmental tinnitus may sometimes be permanent or it may sometimes respond to changes to make your environment quieter.

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

When you hear sounds that aren’t really present, that’s tinnitus. Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing, but can also manifest as other sounds, like screeching, thumping, or humming. The sounds are usually rhythmic in nature. Tinnitus will usually clear itself up after a short period of time. In less common cases, tinnitus could become effectively permanent, a condition referred to as chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus is so prevalent for a couple of reasons. The first is that the environmental factors that play a role in tinnitus are also fairly common (more on that in a bit). Underlying conditions and injuries can contribute to tinnitus symptoms and that accounts for the second reason. And there are quite a few conditions and injuries that can trigger tinnitus. Tinnitus is quite common for these reasons.

How is tinnitus affected by environmental factors?

There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to tinnitus symptoms, including ototoxic chemicals and medications. But when it comes to “environmental” triggers, noise is the biggest culprit. For example, some locations are noisier than others (traffic noise in some settings can get extremely high). Somebody would be at risk of environmental tinnitus, for example, if they worked around loud industrial equipment.

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

As with hearing loss, noise-related damage can eventually cause tinnitus symptoms. In these situations, the resulting tinnitus is often chronic in nature. Here are some of the most prevalent noise-related causes of tinnitus:

  • Noise in the workplace: It may come as a surprise that many workplaces, sometimes even offices, are fairly loud. Whether it’s industrial equipment or gabby office neighbors, spending eight hours a day around constant workplace noise can eventually lead to tinnitus.
  • Events: If noise is loud enough, even over short intervals, tinnitus can sometimes be the result. For instance, going to a concert or using firearms can both result in tinnitus if the volumes reach a high enough level.
  • Traffic: You might not even realize how loud traffic can be in densely populated places. And noise damage can happen at a lower volume than you might expect. Long commutes or consistent driving in these noisy settings can eventually lead to hearing damage, including tinnitus.
  • Music: Many individuals will often listen to their music at high volumes. Doing this on a regular basis can often cause tinnitus symptoms.

People often wrongly think hearing damage will only happen at extreme volume levels. Consequently, it’s essential to wear hearing protection before you think you may need it. Noise related tinnitus symptoms can frequently be avoided altogether by doing this.

If I have tinnitus, what should I do?

Will tinnitus go away on its own? Well, in some instances it might. In other situations, your symptoms may be irreversible. 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 has not occurred, leading to an increased chance of chronic tinnitus in the future.

Individuals often underestimate the minimum volume that damage starts to happen, which is the most significant contributing factor to its development. Damage has likely already happened if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If this is the case, finding and changing the source of the noise damage is crucial to prevent further damage.

For instance, 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.
  • Wearing hearing protection (either earplugs or earmuffs) in order to counter damage. Noise canceling headphones can also be an asset in this regard.
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend in noisy environments without giving your ears a chance to recover.

How to deal with your symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus are frequently a huge distraction and are really uncomfortable for most people who deal with them. Because of this, they frequently ask: how do you calm tinnitus?

If you hear a ringing or buzzing sound, it’s essential to make an appointment, particularly if the sound doesn’t go away. We can help you figure out the best way to address your specific situation. For the majority of cases of chronic tinnitus, there’s no cure. Here are a number of ways to manage the symptoms:

  • 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 instance) can sometimes help diminish your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Masking device: This is a device that fits like a hearing aid and plays sounds that mask your symptoms. Your device will be specifically calibrated to mask 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.
  • Retraining therapy: In some instances, you can work with a specialist to retrain your ears, gradually modifying the way you process sound.
  • Hearing aid: The ringing or buzzing created by tinnitus can be drowned out by amplifying the volume of external sounds with hearing aids.

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

But tinnitus can be addressed and managed. 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, might be all that’s required. For other people, management might be more demanding.

Schedule an appointment to learn how to regulate 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.