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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 those with tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans endure, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

But that doesn’t make clear why the ringing is invasive some days and virtually non-existent on others. Some typical triggers may explain it but it’s still not clear why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • 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. It may be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The most prevalent cause is a change in a person’s hearing. These changes might be due to:

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

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

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

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

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

Loud Events

Loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to aggravate your tinnitus. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best choice is to wear ear protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for instance, without injuring your ears by wearing earplugs.

You can also keep away from the source of the sound. When you attend a fireworks show don’t sit up front and avoid the front row at a concert. With this and hearing protection, the damage to your hearing will be decreased.

Loud Noises at Home

Stuff at home can be just as aggravating as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Here are a few other sounds from around the house that can cause injury:

  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Laundry – For instance, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Wearing headphones – It might be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their function is to increase the volume, and that could be aggravating your ears.

If there are activities you can’t or don’t want to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.

Workplace Noise

Loud noises at work are just as damaging as any other. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s especially crucial to wear hearing protection. Your employer will most likely provide hearing protection if you let them know your worries. 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 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 think about ear protection.

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

Medication

Medication could also be the issue. Some drugs affect the ears and are known as ototoxic. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you begin taking a new prescription. It may be possible to change to something else.

Tinnitus is an aggravation for some people, but for others, it can be disabling. To be able to determine how to control it from day to day, step one is to figure out what’s causing it.