Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s typical to have good and bad days but why? Over 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 that doesn’t make clear why the ringing is invasive some days and virtually non-existent on others. Some typical triggers may explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing

You hear it, the person beside you doesn’t, which is one thing that makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. 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 prevalent cause. These changes may be due to:

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

Sometimes there is no obvious reason for tinnitus.

See your doctor to have your ears checked if you suddenly observe the symptoms of tinnitus. The problem may be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. A side effect of a new medication might also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets 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 many reasons depending on the person. There are known triggers that might explain it, though.

Loud Events

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

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

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 could be an issue:

  • Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Wearing headphones – It might be time to get rid of the earbuds or headphones. Their job is to increase the volume, and that could be irritating your ears.

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. It’s especially important to wear ear protection if you work in construction or are around machines. Your employer will most likely supply ear protection if you let them know your concerns. 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. Consider ear protection if you are traveling and bring some gum to neutralize the air pressure.

You can experience changes in pressure without leaving your home, as well. If you have sinus troubles, for instance, think about taking medication to help relieve them.

Medication

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

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

Talk to your doctor if you experience an intensifying of tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication. It might be possible to change to something else.

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

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