Hearing Care Specialists - Hopkins, Glencoe, and Watertown, MN

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for people with tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition more than 45 million Americans endure, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also have some amount of hearing loss.

But what is tough to understand is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so invasive. It’s not completely clear why this occurs, but some typical triggers might clarify it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

You hear it, the person sitting next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. It may be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.

Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?

The most prevalent cause is a change in a person’s hearing. The cause of these changes could be:

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

A few other potential causes include:

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

For a small fraction of people, there isn’t any 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 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?

The reason why tinnitus is more severe on some days is a bit of a medical mystery. The reason could be different for each person, too. There are known triggers that might explain it, though.

Loud Events

Loud events such as 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 hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for instance, without hurting your ears by wearing earplugs.

Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the loud sound. When you go to a fireworks show don’t sit up front and stay away from the front row at a concert. Combined with hearing protection, this could reduce the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Stuff around the house can be just as aggravating as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Think about other things you do at home that may be a problem:

  • Wearing headphones – The purpose of headphones is to boost the volume of your audio which could be irritating your tinnitus so it may be time to lose those earbuds.
  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Laundry – If you fold clothes while the washer is running, for example.

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

Workplace Noise

Loud noises at work are just as harmful as any other. It’s particularly crucial to use hearing protection if you work in construction or are around machines. Talk to your boss about your hearing health; they might supply the ear protection you need. Spend your personal time letting your ears rest, too.

Changes in Air Pressure

Many people have experienced ear popping when they fly. 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 equalize the air pressure and consider ear protection.

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


Speaking of medication, that may also be the problem. Certain medications impact the ears and are known as ototoxic. Included on this list are these common medications:

  • 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. It may be possible to change to something else.

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

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