You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s commonplace for people with tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also suffer from some degree of hearing loss.
But what’s tough to comprehend 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 as to why this occurs.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus describes a condition where the patient hears phantom noises such as:
One of the things that makes tinnitus so disturbing is that you hear it but no one else can. The noise can vary in pitch and volume, too. One day it could be a roar and the next day be gone completely.
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
Some other possible causes include:
- High blood pressure
- TMJ problems
- Tumor in the head or neck
- An issue with the carotid artery or jugular vein
- Acoustic neuroma
- Head injury
- Meniere’s disease
For a small percentage of people, there is no obvious reason for them to have tinnitus.
Consult your doctor to have your ears examined if you suddenly notice the symptoms of tinnitus. The problem may be something treatable or it might be a symptom of a life-threatening condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. It may also be a side effect of a new medication.
Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?
It’s a bit of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those with tinnitus. And there may be many reasons depending on the person. However, there might be some common triggers.
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 wear hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for instance, without harming your ears by putting in earplugs.
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 go up front and avoid the front row when you’re at a concert. With this and hearing protection, the damage to your ears will be reduced.
Loud Noises at Home
Things at home can be equally as harmful as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Here are a few other sounds from around the house that can cause damage:
- Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
- Wearing headphones – It might be time to get rid of the earbuds or headphones. Their function is to increase the volume, and that might be irritating your ears.
- Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be a problem.
If there are things you can’t or don’t want to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.
Noises at Work
Loud noises at work are just as harmful as any other. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s especially important to wear ear protection. Talk to your boss about your ear health; they will probably supply the ear protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.
Air Pressure Changes
When most people fly they experience ear popping. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of 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 think about ear protection.
Changes in air pressure happen everywhere not only on a plane. Taking the proper medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.
Speaking of medication, that could also be the issue. Some medications impact the ears and are known as ototoxic. Included on this list are these common medications:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
If you’re experiencing an intensifying of your tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication, consult your doctor. Switching to something else could be possible.
For some people tinnitus is not just annoying it’s debilitating. The first step is to figure out why you have it and then look at ways to control it from day to day.