How Ringing in the Ears Could Affect Your Job

An audiologist doing a hearing test on a female patient.

Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, can be frustrating. Sufferers say the constant ringing or hissing sounds can make them feel irritable and stressed. They may withdraw from family and friends, negatively impacting these relationships. About 42% of employees with tinnitus believe it adversely affects their work. Here’s how ringing in the ears could affect your job.

  1. Acceptance

    Research shows about 20% of people have ringing in the ears. Often, they don’t want people to know they have a problem. They are afraid the ringing could affect how well they hear in team discussions or customer meetings. They’re also concerned that coworkers won’t understand.

  1. Sounds

    People with tinnitus often are more sensitive to sounds, especially those at a high volume. If they work in an environment with loud sounds, they may experience ear pain or tinnitus spikes. Wearing ear protection makes it easier for people with tinnitus to cope with changes in sounds.Over 80% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Their brains may not correctly hear and interpret sounds. Tinnitus doesn’t cause hearing loss, but the ringing makes it difficult for people to hear other sounds. Hearing professionals suggest that hearing aids are an effective way to treat tinnitus and improve people’s hearing.

  1. Focus

    Constant ringing or hissing sounds can distract people from focusing on their work and participating in conversations, impacting productivity. One hearing expert described the problem as the brain must ignore the ringing in the ears to focus on other things. People with mild tinnitus usually can disregard the ringing. However, more severe forms of tinnitus can cause anxiety and sleeplessness, which can affect people’s ability to do their job.

  1. Advancement

    About 23% of people with tinnitus believe the problem affects employment opportunities.Tinnitus sufferers experience different levels of the problem. Some have mild symptoms, while others have more severe ringing in their ears. Many people with tinnitus believe that they won’t be hired for a job if they tell the prospective employer about it. They fear employers may not understand tinnitus and think it will affect their ability to complete job responsibilities.

Prevention and treatment

There are many causes of tinnitus. Some forms of ringing in the ears cannot be prevented. But people can take several steps to try to lower the risk of it developing, such as:

  1. Lower the volume

    When listening to music, keep the volume down. Listening at a high volume, especially when using headphones, can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.

  1. Use noise-canceling headphones

    Hearing occurs when the tiny hairs in your ears transmit sounds to the brain. The brain recognizes and interprets the sounds. If the hairs are damaged, it’s easier to develop ringing in the ears. So in addition to keeping the volume down, protect your hearing by using noise-canceling headphones when listening to music. If at work, use noise-reducing headsets that protect the ears from high-pitched or loud noises.

  1. Stay healthy

    Scientists report that the circulatory system or a blood disorder also can cause tinnitus. For this reason, it’s essential to keep your body healthy. Exercise frequently to reduce inflammation and enhance blood flow. Eat healthy foods to support cells. Reduce stress to improve circulation and keep the ears healthy.

Medical experts recommend that if you notice any changes in your hearing to see your doctor for a hearing exam to identify possible reasons. Often, it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of the ringing in the ears. Hearing experts may prescribe hearing aids to help reduce the ringing sounds.

American Tinnitus Association
Verywell Health
Mayo Clinic
Psychology Today
ENT Health