Tinnitus is probably a word that you have heard of, but do you know exactly what it means? 1 in 3 people get tinnitus at some point in their lives, and around 1 in 10 adults have tinnitus that doesn’t go away. On our website, we have put together some top tips to protect your hearing, as prevention is always better than cure. Let’s have a further look into tinnitus and how difficult it can be to live with.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a medical term used to describe a constant noise or ringing in the ears, which is not caused by an outside source. The sound you may hear could also be in the form of a buzzing, whooshing, humming, throbbing or hissing noise depending on the level of damage to your ear. You might hear the sound in one ear, or both ears, and it may be constant or the tinnitus may come and go.
What Causes It?
Often the cause of tinnitus isn’t particularly clear, but it is often associated with other forms of hearing loss. Damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea (within the inner ear) can lead to tinnitus. This can occur naturally as part of the ageing process, or from overexposure to loud noises. Tinnitus can also be a side-effect of taking certain medication including chemotherapy medicine and antibiotics.
Coping With Tinnitus
Managing tinnitus on a day-to-day basis can be a struggle, particularly if your lifestyle or work environment means that you are regularly exposed to high levels of noise. Here are a few things that you can do to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus:
1. Put some background noise on, for example music
This may seem a little counterintuitive to block out the ringing in your ears with more noise, but actually, it should help take your mind off it. In a quiet environment it is much easier to focus on your tinnitus which only exaggerates the noise. Adding some background noise can help to distract your mind away from the tinnitus.
2. Try to relax more
Tinnitus can also be associated with anxiety and depression, so it is important to reduce your stress levels. Whether that is in the form of yoga or meditation, or simply working on improving your sleep routine so you become more relaxed during the day.
3. Ensure your lifestyle is healthy
Take the time to look after yourself. Sticking to a healthy diet and reducing intake of caffeine and alcohol can really help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus. By adding exercise into your schedule this will not only help reduce stress, but increase blood circulation. In some cases, tinnitus is associated with low blood supply to the inner ear so exercise should really help with this.
4. Avoid loud environments
The main cause of tinnitus is constant exposure to loud noise, and if you work in a factory environment or a warehouse, this is often unavoidable. You may find that you struggle with increased tiredness and fatigue as a result of tinnitus, so taking all the steps you can to reduce your exposure will help.
Protecting Your Hearing
Frequent, prolonged exposure to loud noise will increase your risk of getting tinnitus. Therefore, the best way you can protect your ears is with the right level of hearing protection. This can be in the form of earmuffs, safety earplugs and earpods.
Now it is hard to identify what is classed as ‘loud’ noise, but in general anything over 85dB will require you to wear hearing protection. Of course there are other factors, such as the intensity of the sound that affects whether you might need hearing protection at a lower decibel. By law, if you work in an environment where the noise levels exceed 80dB hearing protection should be provided. Staff should also be educated and trained in the risks associated with working in a noisy environment.
The main thing to take away from this blog is that hearing damage cannot be reversed. It is always best to err on the side of caution and use hearing protection wherever possible. If you would like more information about the different types of hearing protection we provide here at BETAFIT please give our team a call on 01472 867 467 or email [email protected].