Preventing Noise-Induced Tinnitus
Noise-induced tinnitus can often be avoided if you take proactive steps to protect your hearing. While there are many causes of tinnitus, including medications, high blood pressure, and hormonal changes, the most common cause is exposure to loud noise. In fact, about 90 percent of people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss.
Exposure to loud sound, whether sudden, prolonged, or cumulative, is the leading cause of tinnitus. It can be temporary, transitory, or permanent. Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of something else, which is why it’s always recommended to see a physician to rule out possible underlying medical causes.
In the case of loud noise exposure, tinnitus is an expression of injury to the auditory system. By managing exposure to loud sound and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you may significantly reduce your risk of developing noise-induced tinnitus.
- Limit noise exposure. Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage to the delicate hair cells in your inner ear, leading to hearing loss and potentially tinnitus.
- Keep the volume down on your headphones or earbuds. Consider using noise canceling earbuds to reduce outside sound so the volume can be played at a low level.
- Download a decibel reader app to measure sound levels in recreational environments. If you aren't sure about the noise level, one measure is if you need to raise your voice to be heard, it's probably too loud.
- Use hearing protection, such as ear muffs or earplugs, in noisy recreational environments and when working with loud tools. If you need to hear clearly, try custom or musician's earplugs, which reduce the volume without muffling sound.
- Take noise breaks by periodically stepping away from loud environments to a quieter area to give your ears a rest. Noise breaks can help prevent the onset or worsening of tinnitus.
- A healthy lifestyle plays a role in preserving and promoting good hearing health. By earring a balanced diet, exercising, and limiting alcohol and tobacco use, you contribute to the long-term wellbeing of your ears and auditory system.
- Have your hearing checked by an audiologist to understand how well you hear. If you work in a noisy environment, have a family history of hearing loss, or are over 50, you should have an annual hearing exam (audiogram). If you're younger and aren't exposed to loud sound, an audiogram every three years should be sufficient.