How To Avoid The Leading Preventable Causes of Tinnitus
Millions of Americans are impacted by tinnitus, and some of the worst cases are severe enough that their tinnitus affects their overall quality of life. Even those who don’t experience debilitating tinnitus can become frustrated and drained by the constant ringing in their ears or however their tinnitus presents. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent tinnitus. If you already experience periodic episodes of tinnitus, doing the things our audiologist recommends can help prevent your tinnitus from flaring up and becoming worse.
Protect Your Ears
The best preventative for tinnitus is to protect your ears, or more specifically, your hearing. Our hearing is often exposed to loud noises, from busy city traffic to the lawnmower. Sounds at these higher decibel (dB) levels can both harm your hearing and trigger tinnitus. While you are out and about, you may want to carry a pair of earplugs with you to protect your hearing if you find yourself in a noisy situation. If you know that you will be attending an event where the decibel level will be over 85 dB—a concert is around 100-120 dB—you may want more substantial hearing protection than just a pair of disposable earplugs. Instead, earmuffs can provide a greater degree of protection as they cover both your ears and the sound-conducting bones around your ears.
Keep Volume Levels Down
Most people use earbuds, headphones, or some variation of personal listening devices. These devices can funnel enough sound directly into your ears that your hearing can become damaged just by jamming out to your favorite music or other audio entertainment. Over the ear headphones is a better option, as they do not rest directly inside your ear. Along with choosing the right listening device, you should be sure to keep the volume of your audio entertainment down. A good rule of thumb is that you should not exceed 60% of the max volume available. After a while of listening to quieter entertainment, you may find that even that rule is too high.
Stop Smoking And Using Nicotine Products
Smoking and using nicotine products—like chewing tobacco and vapes with nicotine in the liquid—restrict your blood vessels. This restriction can trigger tinnitus and make existing tinnitus worse. It is best that you eliminate smoking and nicotine products altogether.
Come In For Hearing Evaluation
Hearing loss is often connected to tinnitus. In fact, some research has shown that over half of the people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss. In these cases, the tinnitus may be triggered as the brain receives less sound input from the auditory system. If you do have hearing loss along with tinnitus, you can have your tinnitus treatment combined with your hearing loss treatment when you use hearing aids. As modern hearing aids can have tinnitus treatment built into them—producing soothing sounds to distract from your tinnitus—using hearing aids is an effective way to prevent your tinnitus from becoming worse.
Engage In Regular Exercise
Exercise can help with a multitude of health and wellness issues, from type 2 diabetes to tinnitus. For one thing, regular exercise can help reduce your stress levels, which can directly impact tinnitus positively, as stress is a major contributor to tinnitus.
Have Earwax Removed
Our ears are meant to produce earwax to help lubricate our ears and protect the ear canal from foreign bodies. However, sometimes your earwax production can get out-of-control, leaving you with excessive wax that blocks your ears. If a blockage occurs, it can cause tinnitus and make existing symptoms worse. In most cases, our audiologist can recommend an over-the-counter earwax softener you can use at home, or he can remove your excess earwax in our hearing clinic.
Reduce Caffeine, Alcohol, And Other Stimulants
Stimulants like caffeine can cause your blood vessels to vasodilate (widen) and can trigger tinnitus at high levels on ingestion. Alcohol can also be a vasodilator, but high levels of alcohol can also cause vasoconstriction (narrowing blood vessels). These changes to your blood vessels can trigger a tinnitus flare-up, so if you are prone to tinnitus, you should reduce your consumption.
Treat Ear Infections
Ear infections can be both painful and damaging to your hearing. Not only that but prolonged and repeat ear infections can cause tinnitus. It is important that once you notice an ear infection has developed that you get it taken care of and cleared up with medication quickly.
Check If Medication Is Ototoxic
There are over 200 medications—both over-the-counter and prescription—that are ototoxic. If a medication is ototoxic, that means that it is harmful to your hearing. If your hearing becomes damaged by ototoxic medication, you can increase your risk of tinnitus. Sometimes, the effects of the ototoxic medications are temporary, but in some cases, they are not, so be sure to check before taking any medicines.
Find Tinnitus Treatment At The Hearing Clinic
Living with tinnitus can be difficult, especially as your symptoms progress, so it is better to take steps to prevent tinnitus rather than try to manage your tinnitus later. However, if you are struggling with tinnitus and need help managing your symptoms, feel free to contact us to consult with our audiologist. That way, you can start taking control of your tinnitus, rather than it controlling you.