What’s That Ringing in My Ears?
Even more common than hearing loss, tinnitus is another damaging effect of exposure to dangerous noise. The American Tinnitus Association reports that over 50 million people report problems with ringing in the ears.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is usually described as a ringing, but may also be perceived as a chirping or roaring, and greatly affects quality of life, sleep, concentration, mood and attention.
What Causes Tinnitus?
One of the leading causes of tinnitus is loud noise exposure; easily preventable with the use of proper hearing protection.
Carpenters, pilots, musicians, street-repair workers, and landscapers are among those whose jobs put them at risk, as are people who work with chain saws, guns, or other loud devices or who repeatedly listen to loud music. A single exposure to a sudden extremely loud noise can also cause tinnitus.1
Other causes include excessive ear wax, ear infections, head trauma, vascular disorders, and tumors, certain medications such as anti-inflammatories, Meniere’s disease and viruses that affect the inner ear.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, you can take steps to prevent or minimize tinnitus, including:
• Avoid exposure to loud noise. See decibel levels of common sounds and exposure limits.
• Use adequate hearing protection. Find protection to meet your needs.
• Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.
• Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, and salt.
• Control stress and get plenty of rest.
Aside from prevention, an audiological evaluation may be helpful.
The audiologist can evaluate the tinnitus and hearing ability and perhaps develop a plan to help manage the tinnitus. A consultation with a medical doctor is also advisable in order to rule out any underlying medical causes.
If hearing aids are prescribed, the use of these may reduce the audibility of the ringing.