Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s common to have good and bad days but why? More than 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in their ears due to a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

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

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring

One of the things that makes tinnitus so disturbing is that you hear it but no one else does. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it could be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

Some other possible causes include:

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

Sometimes there is no obvious reason for tinnitus.

If your tinnitus has just started, see your doctor and determine what is happening with your ears. The problem might be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

For those who have tinnitus it’s a medical mystery why it gets worse on some days. And there might be more than one reason depending on the person. However, there could be some common triggers.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best option is to use hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for example, without harming your ears by wearing earplugs.

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

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your house can also be a problem. For instance, mowing the lawn is enough to trigger tinnitus. Think about other things you do at home that could be an issue:

  • Woodworking – The tools you use are enough to cause a problem
  • Wearing headphones – It could be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their function is to increase the volume, and that might be irritating your ears.
  • Laundry – If you fold clothing while the washer is running, for example.

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 near machinery or in construction it’s especially important to use ear protection. Talk to your boss about your hearing health; they might supply the ear protection you need. Spend your personal time letting your ears rest, too.

Changes in Air Pressure

Most people have experienced ear popping when they take a plane. An increase in tinnitus can happen from the noise of the plane engine and the change in pressure. Consider hearing protection if you are traveling and bring some gum to equalize the air pressure.

Changes in air pressure happen everywhere not just on a plane. If you have sinus issues, for example, consider taking medication to help relieve them.

Medication

Speaking of medication, that could also be the problem. Certain drugs impact the ears and are known as ototoxic. Some common drugs on the list include:

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

Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication. It might be feasible to switch to something else.

For some people tinnitus is not just irritating it’s disabling. The first step is to figure out what’s causing it and then consider ways to control it from day to day.

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