Audiology Specialty Clinic - Sioux Falls, SD

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for people who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the technical term for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and comes along with hearing loss by around 90 percent of them.

None of that explains why the ringing is intrusive some days and almost non-existent on others. It’s not entirely clear why this happens, but some typical triggers may clarify it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

You hear it, the guy beside you can’t, which is one thing that makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. It might be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Changes in a person’s hearing are the most prevalent cause. The cause of these changes could be:

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

There are other potential causes, also, such as:

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

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

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

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

The explanation for why tinnitus is more severe on some days is a bit of a medical mystery. And there might be more than one reason depending on the person. However, there could be some common triggers.

Loud Events

Loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to irritate your tinnitus. The best option is to put in ear protection if you expect to be exposed to a lot of noise. They make earplugs, for instance, that will permit you to enjoy music at a live performance but reduce the effect it has on your hearing.

Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the noise. For instance, don’t stand next to the speakers at a concert or up front at a fireworks show. With this and ear protection, the impact to your hearing will be decreased.

Loud Noises at Home

Stuff around the house can be just as aggravating as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Think about other things you do at home that might be a problem:

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

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

Workplace Noise

Loud noises on the job are just as harmful as any other. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s especially crucial to use hearing protection. Your employer will most likely supply hearing protection if you let them know your concerns. Let your ears rest during your off time.

Air Pressure Changes

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

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

Medication

Speaking of medication, that could also be the issue. Some medications are ototoxic, meaning they affect the ears. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

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

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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