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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? More than 45 million Americans endure ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and comes along with hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

But what’s tough to understand is why it’s almost non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so invasive. Some typical triggers might explain it but it’s still not clear as to why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring

You hear it, the guy right next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. The noise can vary in pitch and volume, too. One day it might be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

For a small fraction of people, there is no apparent reason for them to have tinnitus.

If your tinnitus is new, see your doctor to find out what is going on with your ears. The issue may be something treatable or it might be a symptom of a life-threatening condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

For those who have tinnitus it’s a medical mystery why it gets worse on some days. And there may be many reasons depending on the person. There are common triggers that might explain it, though.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks. The number one way to go is to put in ear protection if you expect a lot of noise. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for example, without hurting your ears by using earplugs.

You can also stay away from the source of the sound. For example, don’t stand right beside the speakers at a live performance or up front at a fireworks display. Combined with hearing protection, this will lessen the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises around your home can also be harmful. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Here are various other sounds from around the house that can cause injury:

  • Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Wearing headphones – It could be time to lose the earbuds or headphones. Their job is to increase the volume, and that could be aggravating your ears.
  • Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be a problem.

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

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same effect as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s especially crucial to wear hearing protection. Your employer will probably provide ear protection if you inform them of your concerns. Spend your off time letting your ears rest, too.

Air Pressure Changes

When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of the noise of the plane engine and the shift in pressure. Think about hearing protection if you are traveling and bring some gum to equalize the air pressure.

Changes in air pressure happen everywhere not only on a plane. Taking the right medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.


Speaking of medication, that might also be the problem. Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they have an impact on the ears. Included on this list are these common medications:

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

Talk to your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you begin taking a new medication. Switching to something else could be a possibility.

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