How To Protect Yourself Against Tinnitus
Did you know that the leading cause of tinnitus is damage to the inner ear caused from loud noise exposure? In fact, almost one-third of tinnitus cases are caused from loud noise exposure.
Tinnitus occurs when you hear sounds that aren’t present in the external environment. Common sounds include buzzing, ringing, hissing or whistling. The sounds can start mildly at first, but can become more noticeable over the following months or years. In fact, you can get tinnitus instantly without warning.
Tinnitus is not a disease, but is a symptom of another cause, most commonly damage to the inner ear. To protect yourself against tinnitus – or prevent it from worsening – we have some tips for you to follow.
Before Exposure to Noise
Exposure to noise can cause and make tinnitus worse. In order to protect yourself, you have to plan ahead – especially if you already know your environment will be loud.
One simple thing you can do is ensure your ears are healthy. A healthy ear is more likely to withstand damage from loud noise. This includes eating a healthy diet and ensuring you are getting plenty of magnesium and vitamins A, E, and C. These vitamins and nutrients can help to protect the tiny hair cells in your cochlea.
If you’re considering taking multivitamins or supplements, talk to your doctor first to ensure they are safe to take, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Prior to loud noise exposure, make sure your ears are fully protected. Tinnitus can happen right after noise exposure. Practice putting earplugs ahead of time. Sometimes they can be difficult to put in if you have smaller ear canals.
During Exposure To Noise
In noisy environments (such as concerts and sporting events) stay away from speakers and sit further away from the stage. Take “noise breaks” every 15-20 minutes and go to a quiet area to rest your ears. A couple minutes of rests can protect your inner ear cells from becoming damaged.
When listening to music, adjust the device’s settings so that the maximum volume is no higher than 6 decibels (dB). This is approximately 2 levels below the maximum volume. This helps to prevent you from accidently exceeding the “safe level” while listening to music. Then adjust the volume to an enjoyable level, but reduce it another couple of notches as a safety precaution. Lastly, turn off the music every 15 minutes to give your ears time to recover.
While using power tools or at the shooting range, double up your protection by wearing earplugs and earmuffs together. Every layer of protection counts. An unprotected ear exposed to the sound of a gunshot is vulnerable to tinnitus. If you need to speak to someone, you can remove the earmuffs, but NEVER remove the earplugs. If you have to remove the earplugs to hear more clearly, leave the noisy area first before doing so.
After Exposure To Noise
Many doctors recommend using steroids (prednisone) to treat sudden hearing loss within 6 weeks of first occurring. However, there’s been recent debate as to whether this is actually successful and if the side effects are worth it.
The best thing you can do is to act quickly and take the vitamins and antioxidants mentioned above. These can help to reduce the potential damage caused by the loud noise exposure. Again, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure it’s safe for you to take.
Learning to relax and letting your body heal are equally as important. The 2 leading factors that make tinnitus worse are stress and fatigue. So take care of your body and give your ears the best chance of getting better.
Finally, make sure you plan for your next loud noise exposure. If you’re going to a club, bring ear plugs. If you’re going a concert, sit further away. And if you’re listening to music, preset the volume to low setting.
Wherever you go, carry ear plugs with you. They are your ear’s best friend. Talk to your hearing care professional about having custom ear plugs made for you. These are more effective at blocking out noise since they are specially made for your ear canals. And remember to limit the time you spend in noisy environments.
If you would like more tips contact us Sophisticated Hearing at (201) 445-2455. We offer customized hearing solutions for people dealing with tinnitus.