Hearing Services of Nashville

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 individuals with tinnitus but why? More than 45 million Americans endure ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also suffer from some amount of hearing loss.

None of that clarifies why the ringing is invasive some days and virtually non-existent on others. Some normal triggers might explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this occurs.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • 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. One day it might be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

Some other possible causes include:

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

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 problem might be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. It could also be a side effect of a new medication.

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 might be different for each person, too. 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 option is to wear hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for instance, without hurting your ears by putting in earplugs.

You can also keep away from the source of the sound. When you attend a fireworks display don’t go up front and avoid the front row at a concert. Combined with hearing protection, this will reduce the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises around your house can also be harmful. For example, mowing the lawn is enough to induce tinnitus. Here are various other sounds from around the house that can cause damage:

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

If there are activities you can’t or aren’t willing to avoid like woodworking, wear hearing protection.

Workplace Noise

Loud noises on the job have the same effect as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s especially crucial to wear ear protection if you work in construction or are around machinery. Talk to your employer about your ear health; they will probably provide the hearing protection you need. Spend your personal time giving your ears a rest.

Air Pressure Changes

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 shift in pressure. If you are traveling, take some gum with you to help equalize the air pressure and think about hearing protection.

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

Medication

Speaking of medication, that might also be the problem. Some medications impact the ears and are known as ototoxic. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

If you’re experiencing an intensifying of your tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription, consult your doctor. It may be possible to change to something else.

For some people tinnitus is not just irritating it’s debilitating. The first step is to find out what’s causing it and then look at ways to control it from day to day.

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