Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s commonplace for those with tinnitus but why? More than 45 million Americans experience ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also have some degree of hearing loss.

But what is hard to comprehend is why it’s virtually non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so invasive. It is not completely clear why this happens, but some ordinary triggers may explain it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Ringing
  • Buzzing

One of the things that makes tinnitus so disturbing is that you hear it but no one else does. 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?

The most prevalent cause is a change in a person’s hearing. The cause of these changes could be:

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

Some other possible causes include:

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

Sometimes there is no apparent explanation for tinnitus.

If your tinnitus is new, see your doctor to find out what is happening with your ears. The issue 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 could also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

The explanation for why tinnitus gets worse on some days is somewhat of a medical mystery. And there might be many reasons 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. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best choice is to use hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for instance, without hurting your ears by wearing 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 at a live performance or up front at a fireworks show. Combined with hearing protection, this could diminish the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises around your home can also be harmful. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Consider other things you do at home that might be a problem:

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

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

Noises at Work

Loud noises on the job are just as damaging as any other. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s particularly crucial to wear hearing protection. Talk to your boss about your ear health; they might provide the hearing protection you need. Spend your personal time letting your ears rest, too.

Air Pressure Changes

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

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

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

Consult your doctor if you experience an intensifying of tinnitus after you begin taking a new prescription. Switching to something else may be feasible.

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

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