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 people who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the technical term 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 around 90 percent of them.

But what is hard to understand is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It’s not entirely clear why this occurs, but some typical triggers may clarify it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Buzzing

You hear it, the person right next to you can’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it might be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

What is The Cause of Tinnitus?

Alterations in a person’s hearing are the most prevalent cause. These changes might be due to:

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

There are other potential causes, also, such as:

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

For a certain fraction of people, there is no apparent reason for them to have tinnitus.

Consult your doctor to have your ears examined if you suddenly observe the symptoms of tinnitus. The issue might be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition including high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication could also be the cause.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

It’s somewhat of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those with tinnitus. The reason might be different for each person, also. There are known triggers that could explain it, though.

Loud Events

Loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to irritate your tinnitus. The number one way to go is to wear ear protection if you expect 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 noise. When you go to a fireworks show don’t sit up front and avoid the front row when you’re at a concert. Combined with hearing protection, this will reduce the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

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

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

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

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s particularly crucial to wear hearing protection if you work in construction or are around machines. Your employer will probably supply hearing protection if you inform them of your concerns. Spend your off time letting your ears rest, too.

Air Pressure Changes

When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. 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 neutralize the air pressure and consider ear protection.

Changes in air pressure happen everywhere not only on a plane. If you have sinus problems, for example, think about taking medication to help relieve them.


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

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

Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription. Changing to something else could be possible.

For some people tinnitus is not just irritating it’s debilitating. To be able to figure out how to control it from day to day, step one is to find out what’s causing it.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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