Tinnitus is a condition that causes people to hear sounds that do not have any external basis. Instead, the sound is being created by the brain. The condition can be detrimental to the quality of life a person experiences, often causing issues such as anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

There are numerous reasons a person may experience tinnitus. The condition can develop as a symptom of a different health issue; diabetes, hypertension, and anemia have all been linked with tinnitus. However, tinnitus can also be caused by lifestyle factors, and below, we’ve taken a deeper look at the hobbies that can cause tinnitus, why this is and whether the risk can be mitigated.

How can hobbies cause tinnitus?

Tinnitus is often caused by exposure to loud sound for a prolonged period of time. Any sound over 85 decibels is capable of harming hearing health and can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus developing in the future. The longer a person is exposed to harmful sound levels, the higher their risk of developing hearing health complications becomes.

Which hobbies can cause tinnitus?

Any hobby that exposures a person to loud noises may eventually lead to a diagnosis of tinnitus. Here are a few examples:

  • Regularly attending concerts that are notoriously loud cause an increased risk 
  • Regularly attending sporting events; crowd noise at major events can exceed 100 decibels or more 
  • Shooting or hunting a .22 caliber rifle produces noise around 140 decibels, and larger rifles can produce significantly more
  • Motorsports can also be incredibly noisy; for example, a NASCAR race can often exceed 100 decibels 
  • Playing a musical instrument, either at home or as part of a band or orchestra, can also be harmful to hearing; flutes, oboes and trombones (among others) can all cross over the 85-decibel safe limit when played at their loudest

Should these hobbies be avoided in order to protect against tinnitus?

It may be best to answer “yes” to this question, as the hobbies above do expose people to sound levels that are beyond the safe limit.

However, it’s important to be realistic. People enjoy the hobbies above, and simply abandoning them all together would pose significant limitations on their overall enjoyment of life. As a result, most people would rather focus on ways to mitigate the potential harm of their favorite hobbies.

How can you protect your hearing when engaging in these hobbies?

The most important step is to look for adequate hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs. By wearing these devices while enjoying your preferred hobby, you can be confident that your hearing will be protected. Your audiologist will be able to help you choose hearing protection that is suitable for your particular needs.

In addition, attending regular hearing tests is also advisable for those who regularly indulge in hobbies that may be harmful to hearing. Regular tests ensure you can obtain a full picture of your hearing health and, if problems do develop, you can seek treatment as soon as possible.

While certain hobbies can potentially be harmful to hearing, effective protection and regular check-ups with your audiologist can be helpful in reducing the risk.