Information Preventing tinnitus How do I prevent it? Tinnitus can’t always be prevented. There are many causes and reasons why people experience the condition. But here are a few examples of ways you can help protect yourself from tinnitus in certain situations: Infections Tinnitus can be caused by ear infections. If you use earplugs or hearing aids, make sure you keep them clean. Don’t put things in your ear, not even cotton buds as these can cause infections. Your ears clean themselves naturally, and if you are worried about a build-up of wax, talk to a GP, nurse or pharmacist. Hardened wax can be softened by using olive oil drops available from a pharmacy, once softened the wax may release itself. If not, you will be able to have it removed by a hearing healthcare provider. Stress and anxiety Tinnitus can sometimes start when you are anxious or stressed, so try and keep a healthy life balance. Do things you enjoy and de-stress every day by taking some time out for yourself. Stay fit, eat well and enjoy life. Use hearing protection in loud social situations If you are going to be exposed to loud sounds over 85dB (see How loud is loud) make sure you use hearing protection. You can also get sound meters to measure sound if you want to get an idea of how loud sounds are. There are lots of sound meter apps available which can be helpful and which are free to download and use. Don't stand by the speakers If you're going to a club or festival avoid standing or sitting by the speakers. The closer you are to the source of the sound, the louder it will be. Stay safe, and stay back. Safe levels of personal listening If you listen to music through headphones or earbuds, make sure you set the level to a safe one. That means not ramping up the volume to block out other external sounds. Your ears adjust to the levels you listen to, so if you listen to it loud, you will want to keep listening to it loud. If you turn it down, it might seem too quiet at first, but your ears will gradually adjust to the new level. If you aren't sure how loud to listen, get a friend to stand by you when you have your headphones on. If they can hear what you can hear, then it's too loud. You can also make sure you use a limiter if you are listening on a phone, and make sure you never turn the volume up beyond the green section which indicates it's at a safe level. Amber means it's getting too loud, red means it's dangerously loud. You may also want to try noise-cancelling headphones. As these cancel out background sounds, it means you can listen at a lower level. And if you are getting headphones for children, why not buy ones which have a max level of 85dB, then you can be reassured that your children won't be able to listen to anything that's not at a safe level. Take a break Your ears can cope better with loud sounds if you give them regular breaks - so if you are in a noisy environment, or if you are using headphones, always take some time out and let your ears have a rest. Find out more about our tinnitus prevention campaign Plug’em, at www.plugem.co.uk.