Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external noise is present. It can be a ringing, buzzing, or clicking noise, and it can vary in pitch from low to very high. Tinnitus may be intermittent or constant, and it can occur in one ear or both ears. Although tinnitus is not a condition itself, it can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or infection. Some people experience tinnitus for only a short time after exposure to loud noise, while others have chronic tinnitus that lasts for months or even years. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments that can help minimise the symptoms.
Some 7.1 million people are living with Tinnitus in the UK1. That’s 13% of the UK population. And it appears to be an upward trend as we are living in an ever-increasing noisy world, surrounded by technology, live events, transport systems…with our ears exposed to damaging noise on-a-daily basis.
However, this doesn’t mean that having Tinnitus will become the norm. It can be prevented. Like awareness of the benefits of using sun cream to prevent skin cancer, there are simple things you can do to help prevent getting Tinnitus. We are exploring our top three prevention tips below – make sure to read on, your ears will thank you for it!
1. Don’t listen too loud
It’s not uncommon to get on to public transport and be able to hear the music that a person nearby is listening to through their earphones (teenagers spring to mind!). We often bump up the volume to drown out outside noise which is not doing our ears any good at all. The higher the volume, the more damage you are doing. And a symptom of that damage is Tinnitus.
Noise is measured in decibels (dB) and anything over 85dB is deemed too loud. You can get an App on your phone to tell you how loud your environment or music is (we at Snugs are always horrified by how noisy the Tube is!). If you know it’s too loud, and you can control the volume, then turn it down. Simples.
Other tips to help lower the volume:
– Use noise cancelling earphones. With special features designed to reduce outside noise, you’ll hear your music without needing to bump the volume
– Use SnugsPro earphone tips. Adding a custom tip to your earphones provides passive noise isolation (same principles as noise cancelling except no tech is involved). The canal seal ensures no sound bleed, so you’ll hear your music with clarity; you’ll find you want to reduce the volume as it suddenly sounds a lot louder than before!
2. Wear hearing protection in noisy environments
The environment you are in can be noisy, whether you work in an industry which exposes your ears to loud noise, or you’re attending a music festival. When you are in said environments, it’s important to put your health and safety head on and use PPE i.e. earplugs. In fact, it is a legal requirement in the EU if you work in an environment with your ears exposed to over 85dB to provide workers with hearing protection. So, make sure you get your boss to buy some for you if you need it!
The solution to this is to make sure you use hearing protection. There are of course many different types of products available on the market, from foam earplugs to Snugs custom fit hearing protection. If you’re wearing them regularly, then we recommend using SnugsShield as they’re made-to-measure. Not only do they offer the best level of protection as the fit is perfect, they provide the best user-comfort. If they’re comfortable, you will wear them without noticing and wanting to take them out, ensuring your ears are protected throughout your shift.
PLUS they’re the eco-choice too. Easy to keep clean and re-useable, it’s a solid investment.
3. Wear swim plugs if you’re prone to ear infections
Another cause of tinnitus is repeat ear infections. Some of us are prone to these more than others, but if you’re a regular swimmer, you’re likely to get them more often. This is because water carries bacteria in it (pee in the pool!) and when it gets into your ear canal, it’s not easy to get it out. Your ears become a damp environment which is all ingredients for an infection. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it.
So, how to prevent ear infections from water exposure? Best bet is to never swim again…or, you can use earplugs. Think of it as a plug in a sink – using a plug in your ears to stop water going in. As with most products, there are many options in the market to choose from, to suit different budgets and style preference.
If you’re a regular in the water, then the best is of course SnugsAqua custom fit swim plugs. Providing a deep customised fit in your ear canals, they give a seal to stop water getting in, as well as guaranteed to not shift in your ears when you’re wearing them. So, you can focus on your strokes without worrying about your swim plug being dislodged.
If you’re looking to listen to music whilst in the water, then SnugsAqua (Music) are custom tips designed for waterproof earphones. You can pop on your favourite playlist to motivate you to whilst you bash out those lengths.
You can read more on the Aqua range here.
To summarise, there are some simple steps and choices you can make to help decrease the risk of damaging your ears and getting Tinnitus. It may not seem to be worth the effort if you do not have tinnitus, however all those who DO have it wish they had known and done more before. Unfortunately, there is no cure and once you have permanent Tinnitus, you have to learn to live with it for life. And with prevalence rising in younger generations, it’s important for parents to take action and keep their children’s ears safe too.
Tinnitus UK is a charity which helps those who suffer with Tinnitus.