Who is at Risk for Developing Tinnitus?
There’s a common phrase that permeates across all avenues of the healthcare industry; “prevention is the best cure.” The healthier we are and the better we take care of our bodies, the less likely we are to be prone to illness and disease. That’s as true for tinnitus as it is for any other symptom of any other condition. And that’s why tinnitus is considered a symptom. While it may be the most apparent, distracting and irritating manifestation of the root cause, tinnitus is rarely the “problem” in and of itself.
We all have the potential to experience hearing loss at some point in our lives. In the majority of cases, it can come and go fairly quickly (usually within 24 hours) with no lasting damage to our hearing or our health. However, some of us are more vulnerable than others, and whose lifestyle, genetics and other factors make them particularly at risk of developing tinnitus.
If you fall into any of the following categories, your audiologist can suggest ways in which you can prevent, mitigate or treat your tinnitus and reduce your risk factors.
You have a stressful job or lifestyle
Stress is a common precursor to tinnitus. When people have stressful jobs and busy lifestyles, hypertension (high blood pressure) is an all-too-common consequence. As such, people who experience stress-related hypertension are particularly vulnerable to tinnitus. What’s more, the perpetual ringing or buzzing sounds that come with tinnitus tend to exacerbate this stress, leading to a vicious cycle.
You drink a lot of coffee
Caffeine (along with salt) are often also contributors to high blood pressure which in turn can cause or exacerbate tinnitus. While we all enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the start of the day, too much caffeine is an open invitation to tinnitus. Switching to decaf can make all the difference.
You work in noisy environments or with heavy machinery
Spending time in noisy environments or working with loud or heavy machinery can often result in both tinnitus and hearing loss. Loud noises can damage the tiny hair cells in our inner ears. This damage can result in erratic electrical signals which are interpreted by the brain as the persistent sounds which we associate with tinnitus. If you work in such an environment, appropriate ear protection is essential.
You have a family history of Meniere’s disease
Meniere’s disease is an incurable – but treatable – genetic condition that currently affects around 600,000 people in the US alone. If you have a family history of this condition, you may be particularly at risk of developing tinnitus as well as hearing loss and intermittent loss of balance or vertigo.
You don’t get your ears cleaned or examined regularly
When your ears are not cleaned or examined regularly, you may experience a buildup of earwax which may result in tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Earwax is essential for keeping the skin of ear canals soft, while also preventing inner ear infections. But when this builds up, it can lead to long term problems over time.
How your audiologist can help
An audiologist can help by carrying out hearing tests and ear examinations to determine the cause of your tinnitus. They can provide you with the right hearing aid to suit your needs, carry out a safe and effective cleaning of your ears and recommend ear protection or over the counter medications.
Don’t let the risk of tinnitus overshadow your life. Take action today!