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Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for those who suffer from tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the technical term for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

But what’s difficult to understand is why it’s almost non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. Some normal triggers may explain it but it’s still unclear why this occurs.

What Is Tinnitus?

The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:

  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Buzzing

One of the things that makes tinnitus so troubling is that you hear it but no one else can. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it might 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
  • Earwax build up
  • Aging

A few other possible causes include:

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

For a small percentage of people, there isn’t any apparent reason for them to have tinnitus.

See your doctor to have your ears checked if you suddenly notice 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.

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 who have tinnitus. The reason may be different for each person, too. There are known triggers that may explain it, though.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. The number one way to go is to put in ear protection if you expect a lot of noise. They make earplugs, for example, that will permit you to enjoy music at a live performance but reduce the impact it has on your ears.

Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the noise. When you attend a fireworks display 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 impact to your hearing will be decreased.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises around your home can also be a problem. For example, mowing the lawn is enough to trigger tinnitus. Consider other things you do at home that might be an issue:

  • Laundry – For instance, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Wearing headphones – The function of headphones is to increase the volume of your audio which could be aggravating your tinnitus so it may be time to lose those earbuds.

If you can’t stay away from loud noises at least wear hearing protection.

Workplace Noise

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

Air Pressure Changes

When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. The shift in air pressure plus the noise from the plane engines can lead to an increase in tinnitus. Think about hearing 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 issues, for instance, think about taking medication to help alleviate them.


Medication could also be the problem. Some drugs are ototoxic, meaning they have an impact on the ears. Some common medications on the list include:

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

If you’re experiencing a worsening of your tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication, talk to your doctor. Switching to something else might be feasible.

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