Tinnitus is a phantom ringing, roaring, whistling, hissing, humming, buzzing or other sound in the ear with no external source. While you may think of an extremely loud event as a trigger, like a rock concert, the fact is, even everyday sounds can cause this symptom, including traffic noise. In this post, we review what one study has shown about this link.
About the Study
The 2023 study, entitled “Transportation Noise and Risk of Tinnitus: A Nationwide Cohort Study from Denmark,” was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between residential transportation noise and the risk of incident tinnitus.
For the study, researchers conducted a nationwide cohort study including all residents of Denmark ages 30 and over—of these, 40,692 were diagnosed with tinnitus. They then modeled road traffic and railway noise at the most and least exposed buildings of all Danish addresses between 1990 and 2017.
The researchers report, “We found positive associations between exposure to road traffic noise and risk of tinnitus… Highest risk estimates were found for women, people without a hearing loss, people with high education and income, and people who had never been in a blue-collar job.”
Additionally, they found that for every 10 decibels more noise in people’s homes, the risk of tinnitus increased by 6%.
How Does Traffic Noise Cause Tinnitus?
Within the inner ear is the cochlea, which is lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. As soundwaves pass through the ears, they stimulate the stereocilia; this process converts them into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, they can damage or destroy the stereocilia, causing them to misfire. This is why you experience tinnitus after noise exposure.
How Can I Prevent Tinnitus?
Prevent tinnitus caused by noise exposure by wearing hearing protection. You can purchase disposable earplugs or earmuffs at Academy Sports + Outdoors on Columbia Street, or you can visit an audiologist at Hearing Healthcare Center for custom-fit hearing protection.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Hearing Healthcare Center today.