Are there individuals who have a higher likelihood for developing tinnitus than others? The quick answer to that question is yes; however, there are also cases where even low risk individuals have developed tinnitus. This article will talk about certain risks you may encounter each day that may cause you to develop tinnitus.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
When you live in an environment that everyday exposes you to loud noises, you are considered a high risk for developing tinnitus. You may argue that the everyday noise you hear falls within a safe level. This may be true but there are times when you have to encounter continuous noise or exceptionally loud noises that can have an injurious impact on your hearing and may result in the development of tinnitus.
A person’s ears are complex and fragile organs. They can be easily injured or damaged if they’re uncared for. The ear possesses very sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear. The hair cells’ function is to turn sound waves into electrical impulses which are sent to the brain that again turns back the impulses into sound. Loud noise exposure can harm the hair cells causing them to either break or bend. When these hair cells are destroyed or damaged, they can start to send “wrong” electrical impulses to the brain making it produce the constant noise (ringing) in the ear that we know as tinnitus. When the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, the damage is irreversible or permanent since these hair cells are incapable of rejuvenating themselves.
The level of sound can be measured in decibels (dB). Here are the measurements of some of the everyday sounds you hear in terms of decibel ratings.
- Refrigerators – 45 dB
- Ordinary chatter – 60 dB
- Traffic in a city – 85 dB
- Small firearms, firecrackers or motorcycles – around 120 dB to 150 dB
If you are constantly exposed to sound ranges 85 decibels and above, you can be considered a likely candidate for tinnitus. Even if you are exposed to loud sound for a short while, it is still substantially probable that you can develop tinnitus or hearing loss. The louder the sound you hear even if it’s just for a few seconds, the higher the likelihood for you in getting tinnitus.
Hearing Loss Caused By Aging
As one gets older, his probability for developing tinnitus gets higher as well. In fact, about a third of seniors (around 65 to 75) experience the symptoms of tinnitus. The reason for this is that as people age, their inner ear hair cells start to lessen and deteriorate leading to age-related persistent tinnitus and hearing loss. Persistent tinnitus is typically a benign condition but it can severely impact a person’s life if it is not treated.
Tinnitus can also develop if you suffer from other conditions associated with your age like thyroid problems, diabetes or circulatory problems and are required to take both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
High Risk Professions for Tinnitus
A common consensus is that certain occupations like industrial work, machinery and the music profession are high risk professions for the development of tinnitus compared to other occupations that do not deal with noise. Interestingly, another profession that is not necessarily related to noise exposure but has a higher-than-normal percentage of tinnitus cases is teaching. A Danish study concluded that teachers who are male have tinnitus cases that are 84% higher compared to males with other occupations. One reason for this is poor acoustics within classrooms and school buildings. Female teachers strangely are not as affected to the poor acoustics as their male counterparts. Another high risk occupation for tinnitus this time for women is daycare providing. Females who work in nurseries who are daycare providers are 1.13 times more likely to suffer from tinnitus compared to females working in other occupations.
Besides tinnitus, impaired hearing and hearing loss being caused by the aforementioned factors, there are other causes like nicotine, caffeine, high salt diets, anxiety and stress that can also be associated with causing tinnitus.
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