Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s par for the course for those with tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and comes along with hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

But what’s difficult to comprehend is why it’s almost non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It is not completely clear why this occurs, but some common triggers might clarify it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Ringing
  • Clicking

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. It may be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

There are other potential causes, also, including:

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

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

If your tinnitus is new, see your doctor and learn what is happening with your ears. The problem may be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication could also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

For those who suffer from tinnitus it’s a medical mystery why it gets worse on some days. The reason may be different for each person, also. There are common triggers that may explain it, though.

Loud Events

Loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to aggravate your tinnitus. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best option is to wear hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for example, without hurting your ears by using earplugs.

You can also keep away from the source of the sound. For example, don’t stand next to the speakers at a live performance or up front at a fireworks show. Combined with hearing protection, this will reduce the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Stuff at home can be just as aggravating as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Here are various other sounds from around the house that can cause damage:

  • Laundry – If you fold clothes while the washer is running, for instance.
  • Wearing headphones – It might be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their job is to increase the volume, and that could be irritating your ears.
  • Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be an issue.

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

Workplace Noise

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 crucial to wear ear protection. Talk to your boss about your hearing health; they will probably supply the ear protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.

Changes in Air Pressure

Most people have experienced ear popping when they fly. An increase in tinnitus can happen from the noise of the plane engine and the change in pressure. If you are traveling, take some gum with you to help equalize the air pressure and think about ear protection.

Changes in air pressure happen everywhere not only on a plane. Taking the right medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.

Medication

Medication may also be the problem. Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they have an impact on the ears. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

Consult your doctor if you experience an intensifying of tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription. Switching to something else might be possible.

For some people tinnitus is not just aggravating it’s disabling. The first step is to find out why you have it and then look at ways to control it from day to day.

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