Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s common to have good and bad days but why? More than 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in their ears due to a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

But what’s hard to understand is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so invasive. Some common triggers may explain it but it’s still not clear why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:

  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Ringing
  • Roaring
  • Hissing

You hear it, the guy right next to you can’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. The noise can vary in pitch and volume, too. It may be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Alterations in a person’s hearing are the most prevalent cause. These changes may be due to:

  • Noise trauma
  • Aging
  • Ear bone changes
  • Earwax build up

Some other possible causes include:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • An issue with the carotid artery or jugular vein
  • High blood pressure
  • Tumor in the neck or head
  • TMJ problems
  • Head injury
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Atherosclerosis

For a certain percentage of people, there is no obvious explanation for them to have tinnitus.

Consult your doctor to have your ears tested if you suddenly observe the symptoms of tinnitus. The issue could be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. It could also be a side effect of a new medication.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

It’s somewhat of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those with tinnitus. And there may be more than one reason depending on the person. However, there may be some common triggers.

Loud Events

Loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to irritate your tinnitus. The best way to go is to put in ear protection if you expect a lot of noise. They make earplugs, for example, that will allow you to enjoy music at a concert but reduce the effect it has on your ears.

Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the loud sound. For example, don’t stand right beside the speakers at a live performance or up front at a fireworks display. Combined with hearing protection, this will lessen the impact.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your house can also be a problem. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Here are various other sounds from around the house that can cause injury:

  • Wearing headphones – The function of headphones is to increase the volume of your audio which could be aggravating your tinnitus so it may be time to lose those earbuds.
  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Laundry – For instance, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.

If you can’t avoid loud noises at least use hearing protection.

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s particularly important to wear hearing protection. Your employer will most likely supply ear protection if you inform them of your concerns. Spend your personal time letting your ears rest, too.

Changes in Air Pressure

When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. The change in air pressure and the noise from the plane engines can result in an increase in tinnitus. Consider hearing protection if you are traveling and bring some gum to neutralize the air pressure.

Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not just on a plane. Taking the correct medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.

Medication

Speaking of medication, that could also be the issue. Certain drugs are ototoxic, meaning they affect the ears. Some common drugs on the list include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Antibiotics
  • Diuretics

Consult your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription. It may be possible to change to something else.

For some people tinnitus is not just annoying it’s disabling. To be able to understand how to control it from day to day, the first step is to find out what’s causing it.

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