You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for those who suffer from tinnitus 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 what’s hard to understand is why it’s almost non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It’s not entirely clear why this occurs, but some common triggers might clarify it.
What Is Tinnitus?
The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:
You hear it, the guy right next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. It might be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.
Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?
The most common cause is a change in a person’s hearing. The cause of these changes could be:
- Earwax build up
- Noise trauma
- Ear bone changes
There are other possible causes, also, including:
- TMJ problems
- An issue with the carotid artery or jugular vein
- Head injury
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- Tumor in the neck or head
- Acoustic neuroma
For a small percentage of people, there is no obvious reason for them to have tinnitus.
See your doctor to have your ears checked if you suddenly notice the symptoms of tinnitus. The problem could be something treatable or it might be a symptom of a life-threatening condition including high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication might also be the cause.
For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.
The reason why tinnitus gets worse on some days is somewhat of a medical mystery. The reason could be different for each person, too. There are common triggers that may explain it, though.
Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be exposed to loud noise, your best choice is to use ear protection. They make earplugs, for example, 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 avoid the front row when you’re at a live performance. Combined with hearing protection, this could diminish the effect.
Loud Noises at Home
Things around the house can be equally as harmful as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Consider other things you do at home that could 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 – It could be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their function is to increase the volume, and that could be irritating your ears.
If you can’t avoid loud noises at least use hearing protection.
Noises at Work
Loud noises on the job have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s especially important to use hearing protection. Talk to your boss about your hearing health; they will probably supply the hearing protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.
Air Pressure Changes
Most people have experienced ear popping when they take a plane. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of the noise of the plane engine and the shift in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and consider hearing protection.
You can experience changes in pressure without leaving your home, too. Taking the right medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.
Speaking of medication, that might also be the issue. Some medications are ototoxic, meaning they affect the ears. Some common medications on the list include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Talk to your doctor if you experience an intensifying of tinnitus after you start taking a new medication. Changing to something else may be feasible.
Tinnitus is an aggravation for some people, but for others, it can be debilitating. The first step is to find out why you have it and then look at ways to keep it under control from day to day.