Tinnitus is a relatively common problem, which is usually linked to exposure to high levels of noise. While some cases of tinnitus cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to protect your ears and lower the risk of experiencing tinnitus. Here are four top tips to take on board.

1. Setting a safe level for personal listening

It’s very common for people to listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks through headphones. Listening to a playlist can while away the hours on a long journey or keep you entertained on the commute to work, but it can also pose risks if the volume is too high. If you’re used to turning up the music, and you often get looks from across a train carriage, this probably means that your device is set at a level that is too high. You should be able to hear whatever you’re listening to without straining, but it shouldn’t be so loud that others around you can detect any noise. Set every device at a safe level. Noise levels over 85 decibels can put your hearing at risk and increase the chances of developing tinnitus. 

2. Giving your ears a break

We use our ears continuously, often without even thinking about it. If you’re talking and listening all day, you live in a noisy environment or your job involves being subjected to loud noises, take some time out. Give your ears a break. Find a tranquil setting, rest and relax. If you’re in a place where there’s a constant buzz in the background, or you’re set to be exposed to high levels of noise, you’re going to a concert, take regular breaks. Your ears can cope better with loud sounds if they have time to recover between episodes. This can have a positive impact on the risk of developing tinnitus. 

3. Avoiding noisy areas or using ear protection

Many of us have no option but to be subjected to noisy environments as a result of our jobs. If you do work in a setting where high levels of noise are par for the course, use earplugs or ear defenders to protect your hearing and reduce the risk of tinnitus. Tinnitus is prevalent among people who are exposed to elevated noise levels on a regular basis. 

4. Lowering the risk of ear infections

Ear infections can increase susceptibility to tinnitus. To prevent infections, make sure you keep your hearing aids and earplugs as clean as possible and avoid inserting foreign objects, cotton buds into the ear canal. If you feel unwell, and you have symptoms like a fever, sore ears, headaches, swelling and tenderness, seek advice. 

When to seek help for tinnitus
In many cases, tinnitus is a temporary problem, which causes ringing in the ears following exposure to excessive noise. If you’ve been to a rock gig, you may find that you hear hissing and humming noises when you get into bed. If tinnitus symptoms don’t subside, they come and go on a regular basis, or they’ve got worse recently, it’s wise to see a hearing health professional. It’s also advisable to report any changes in your hearing, as tinnitus is often linked to hearing loss. 

If you’re concerned about tinnitus, or you’d like more advice about protecting your ears, don’t hesitate to contact a hearing care provider.