Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s commonplace for people who suffer from tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans endure, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also have some level 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 invasive. Some normal triggers may explain it but it’s still not clear why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Hissing

You hear it, the person beside you doesn’t, which is one thing that 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.

Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

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

If your tinnitus is new, see your doctor and learn what is happening with your ears. The issue may be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition including high blood pressure or heart disease. It might also be a side effect of a new medication.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

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

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be exposed to loud noise, your best choice is to use ear protection. They make earplugs, for example, that will allow you to enjoy music at a live performance but reduce the impact it has on your ears.

Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the loud sound. When you go to a fireworks display don’t sit up front and stay away from the front row when you’re at a live performance. With this and ear protection, the damage to your hearing will be decreased.

Loud Noises at Home

Stuff around the house can be equally as aggravating as a loud concert. For example, mowing the lawn is enough to induce tinnitus. Think about other things you do at home that may be a problem:

  • Wearing headphones – The purpose of headphones is to increase 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 a problem.

If you can’t stay away from loud noises at least wear hearing protection.

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same effect as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s especially important to wear ear protection. Talk to your boss about your ear health; they might supply the ear protection you need. Spend your off time giving your ears a rest.

Air Pressure Changes

When most people fly they experience ear popping. The change in air pressure plus the noise from the plane engines can result in an increase in tinnitus. Think about ear protection if you are traveling and bring some gum to neutralize the air pressure.

Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not only on a plane. If you have sinus issues, for instance, consider taking medication to help alleviate them.

Medication

Speaking of medication, that might also be the issue. Certain drugs are ototoxic, meaning they have an impact on the ears. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

Consult your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you start taking a new medication. It might be feasible to change to something else.

For some people tinnitus is not just irritating it’s debilitating. To be able to understand how to control it from day to day, step one is to find out what’s causing it.

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