Audiology Hearing Clinic of Mequon

(262) 241-3144
11649 N. Port Washington Rd.
Mequon, WI 53092
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Does Noise Exposure Cause Tinnitus?

hearing aid in need of repairs

Short- or long-term exposure to loud noises can cause tinnitus. This is when you experience a ringing, buzzing, roaring or cicada-like sound in your background hearing. Often, this condition is temporary and fades in 16-48 hours, other times it is long term and can be solved only by using a hearing device. 

Does noise-induced hearing loss fade?

Have you noticed a slight ringing in your ears lately? It can be hard to know exactly when this began but it's probably the cumulative effect of long-term noise exposure and ageing. Nobody wants long term hearing loss so you're probably wondering if there's a cure for it, or if it fades. 

The short answer is that it depends on the type of hearing loss you have, how it was acquired and how you choose to treat the symptoms. If the nerves and cells of the inner ear are damaged due to long term noise exposure treatment is probably more realistic than a cure.

How long does tinnitus last? 

There are two types of tinnitus, long term tinnitus and short-term tinnitus. Long term tinnitus has probably developed over many years working or living in a noisy environment. The high decibel levels from the city traffic or music have probably damaged the hairs of the inner ear irreversibly. 

But long-term tinnitus can take many years to develop and you will probably notice the signs of it soon enough which allows you to take actions to prevent it from worsening. Temporary tinnitus usually fades in a day or two and could be the result of a loud day at the beach or a music concert. 

Why does tinnitus come on suddenly?

The causes of tinnitus aren't easy to pin down. Obviously, if you have recently been to a loud concert or traveled for a long period on a noisy aircraft, you may develop short term tinnitus. This is to be expected and you can easily identify where it came from and predict that it will fade in a day or two. 

But if the condition arises gradually over a period in later life it is more likely to be long term tinnitus and the result of long-term exposure to loud and frequent noises. It might seem as though your long-term tinnitus has come from nowhere but actually it has been developing for several years.

What noise levels cause tinnitus? 

Noise levels are measured in decibels and the cut off mark is usually 75-80 dB. Under this noise level, your ears will not be damaged by sounds and you can listen to music and other noises for prolonged periods without any issues. This is the equivalent of 60% volume of your listening device. 

Above 75-80 DB it gets more damaging. These sounds include fireworks, power tools, aircraft, rock concerts and lawnmowers. If it is temporary exposure your hearing should be fine although it is still recommended that you take protective measures. Take extra care if you work with high decibel levels long term.