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Who Is at Risk for Developing Tinnitus?

a woman experiencing slight ear discomfort

Statistics released by the American Tinnitus Association show how over 50-million Americans have experienced tinnitus at least once in their life. While in some cases this condition is only inconvenient, in others can be debilitating. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the medical and lifestyle-related factors that might cause you to have tinnitus in the future. 

Tinnitus causes you to hear phantom noises in your ears, such as buzzing, roaring, clicking, ringing, hissing or humming, when no actual sound is present. For some people with tinnitus, these noises might just be a temporary annoyance

However, if left untreated, tinnitus can affect many aspects of your life, from interpersonal relationships to work life. It is crucial to remember that tinnitus is not a medical condition per se, but rather a symptom of underlying conditions. Here are the main risk factors that can increase the chances of experiencing tinnitus. 

Age and sex

Tinnitus is a condition that can affect anybody, from children to older adults. However, some factors such as age and sex can increase the chances of developing tinnitus. Indeed, as we age, the nerve fibers in the ears decline and start to die, which causes various hearing issues, from hearing loss to tinnitus. Additionally, it has been seen that men are more likely than women to experience tinnitus. 

Use of alcohol and tobacco

The regular use of substances like tobacco and alcohol represents a significant risk factor. Indeed, these habits can cause cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure or hypertension. Another factor to look into to prevent issues such as high blood pressure is your diet. Food high in sodium and excessive consumption of coffee can restrict the blood vessels. 

In turn, cardiovascular problems have been seen to be one of the main health factors linked to the incidence of tinnitus. 

Health conditions and medications

Some health conditions such as obesity, arthritis, head injury, neck injury, cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure can cause you to experience tinnitus. This condition might also be related to an infection in the ear canal or diseases such as brain tumors, Meniere’s disease and thyroid imbalance.

Some medications, such as certain antibiotics and drug cancers, have been seen to be ototoxic – or harmful to the ears. Your audiologist will determine whether a certain drug or a combination of medications can lead to tinnitus in the future. 

Hearing loss

If you are experiencing hearing loss, there are chances that you might also develop tinnitus. That is because hearing loss often happens as a consequence of damage to hair cells in the ear. 

As these become damaged, they might send the wrong impulses to the brain, causing you to hear phantom buzzing and hissing sounds in the ear. Your audiologist at Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids can help you find the right hearing aid for your needs.

Prolonged exposure to loud music

Alongside medical and lifestyle factors, it is also worth looking into how your surrounding environment can influence your hearing. If you are often exposed to loud music because of your job, occupation, hobbies or passions, you might have greater chances of developing tinnitus.

So, if you are in a band or often go to concerts, you should consider always having with you ear protection that can help you enjoy the moment without damaging your hearing. 

If you are exposed to loud music because of your work environment, you should inquire about what ear protection equipment should be provided by law by your employer. 

A loud work environment or machinery

One of the main causes of tinnitus is a loud work environment and the hearing damage that often stems from it. Since many people are not in the condition to change their work environment, your hearing might fall victim to years of loud noises. 

However, over the last years, employers have become increasingly more sensitive about the hearing loss issue and today, they have to provide adequate hearing protection. So, if you are often around loud machinery or there are loud bangs around you, make sure always to wear hearing protection. 

Listening to music with headphones

Thanks to technology, today, we can all enjoy our favorite songs anytime. Listening to music, podcasts and films with headphones has become the rule. However, when not used properly, headphones can also damage our hearing. 

To prevent hearing loss and tinnitus, make sure you follow the 60/60 rule – listen at 60% of the volume and for no longer than 60 minutes. You can then take a break and start listening again!

Get in touch with an audiologist at Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids.

If you are worried about developing tinnitus or currently experiencing this condition, visit us at Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids or contact us at 914-631-8777 to speak to an expert audiologist.