Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s commonplace for people who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

But what is tough to understand is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It is not completely clear why this happens, but some common triggers might explain it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Roaring
  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Buzzing

You hear it, the person sitting next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. It may be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

Exactly What is The Cause of Tinnitus?

The most common cause is a change in a person’s hearing. These changes might be due to:

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

There are other possible causes, as well, such as:

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

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

If your tinnitus is new, consult your doctor to determine what is going on with your ears. The problem may be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. It might also be a side effect of a new medication.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

It’s a bit of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those who have tinnitus. The reason might be different for each person, also. However, there might be some common triggers.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. The number one way to go is to wear hearing protection if you expect a lot of noise. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for instance, without harming your ears by wearing earplugs.

You can also stay away from the source of the sound. When you go to a fireworks show don’t sit up front and stay away from the front row when you’re at a live performance. Combined with hearing protection, this will lessen the impact.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your home can also be harmful. 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 boost the volume of your audio which could be irritating your tinnitus so it could be time to lose those earbuds.
  • Laundry – For instance, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be an issue.

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

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s especially crucial to wear hearing protection if you work in construction or are around machinery. Talk to your employer about your ear health; they will probably provide the ear protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.

Changes in Air Pressure

When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of the noise of the plane engine and the shift in pressure. If you are traveling, take some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and consider ear protection.

You can experience changes in pressure without leaving your home, too. Taking the right medication to alleviate sinus pressure is also helpful.

Medication

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

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

Talk to your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication. It might be possible to change to something else.

Tinnitus is an annoyance for some people, but for others, it can be disabling. To be able to understand how to control it from day to day, the first step is to figure out what’s causing it.

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