Hearing Health Blog

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s normal to have good and bad days but why? Over 45 million Americans endure ringing in their ears due to a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and comes along with hearing loss by around 90 percent of them.

But that doesn’t explain why the ringing is invasive some days and nearly non-existent on others. Some normal triggers may explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus describes a condition where the patient hears phantom noises such as:

  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Ringing

You hear it, the guy sitting next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. The noise can vary in pitch and volume, too. One day it might be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

For a small percentage of people, there isn’t any obvious reason for them to have tinnitus.

If your tinnitus has just started, see your doctor and find out what is going on with your ears. The problem could be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. A side effect of a new medication might also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

The reason why tinnitus gets worse on some days is a bit of a medical mystery. And there might be many reasons depending on the person. However, there may be some common triggers.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be exposed to loud noise, your best option is to use hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for instance, without harming your ears by using earplugs.

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 when attending a concert or up front at a fireworks show. Combined with hearing protection, this will reduce the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your house can also be a problem. For instance, mowing the lawn is enough to induce tinnitus. Here are some other sounds from around the house that can cause injury:

  • Woodworking – The tools you use are enough to cause a problem
  • Laundry – For instance, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Wearing headphones – It could be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their job is to increase the volume, and that could be aggravating your ears.

If there are things you can’t or aren’t willing to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.

Workplace Noise

Loud noises at work have the same effect as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s especially crucial to use ear protection if you work in construction or are around machinery. Your employer will most likely provide ear protection if you make them aware of your concerns. Let your ears rest during your off time.

Changes in Air Pressure

Most people have experienced ear popping when they take a plane. The change in air pressure plus the noise from the plane engines can cause an increase in tinnitus. If you are traveling, take some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and consider hearing protection.

Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not just on a plane. If you have sinus issues, for example, think about taking medication to help relieve them.

Medication

Speaking of medication, that may also be the issue. Certain drugs impact the ears and are known as ototoxic. Some prevalent medications on the list include:

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

If you’re experiencing an intensifying of your tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication, seek advice from your doctor. Changing to something else could be feasible.

Tinnitus is an irritation for some people, but for others, it can be disabling. The first step is to figure out what’s causing it and then consider ways to keep it under control from day to day.

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