Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for those who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the technical term for ringing in the ears, a condition more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and comes along with hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

But what’s hard to comprehend is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It’s not completely clear why this happens, but some ordinary triggers might explain it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

You hear it, the person right next to you doesn’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. 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:

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

There are other likely causes, as well, including:

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

Sometimes there is no apparent reason for tinnitus.

If your tinnitus has just started, consult your doctor and find out what is going on with your ears. The problem could be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

The reason why tinnitus gets worse on some days is a bit of a medical mystery. And there could be more than one reason depending on the person. There are known triggers that may explain it, though.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best choice is to wear ear protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for example, 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 loud sound. For example, don’t stand next to the speakers when attending a concert or up front at a fireworks display. Combined with hearing protection, this could diminish the impact.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your home can also be harmful. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Consider other things you do at home that might be an issue:

  • Wearing headphones – The function of headphones is to increase the volume of your audio which could be irritating your tinnitus so it may be time to lose those earbuds.
  • Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be a problem.
  • Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.

If there are things you can’t or aren’t willing to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.

Noises at Work

Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s especially important to use ear protection. Talk to your manager about your hearing health; they will probably provide the ear 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 from the noise of the plane engine and the change in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help equalize the air pressure and think about hearing protection.

You can experience changes in pressure without leaving your home, as well. If you have sinus troubles, for example, think about taking medication to help alleviate them.

Medication

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

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

Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you start taking a new medication. Changing to something else may be a possibility.

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