Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s normal to have good and bad days but why? Over 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.

None of that clarifies why the ringing is invasive some days and almost non-existent on others. Some common triggers could explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this occurs.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking

You hear it, the person beside you doesn’t, which is one thing that makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it may be a roar and the next day be gone completely.

What is The Cause of Tinnitus?

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

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

Some other possible causes include:

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

For a small percentage of people, there is no obvious explanation for them to have tinnitus.

If your tinnitus is new, consult your doctor and learn what is happening with your ears. The problem might be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.

For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.

It’s somewhat of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those who have tinnitus. And there might be more than one reason depending on the person. There are common triggers that could explain it, though.

Loud Events

Loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to irritate your tinnitus. If you expect to be exposed to loud noise, your best option is to wear ear protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for example, without injuring your ears by using 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 display don’t go up front and avoid the front row when you’re at a concert. Combined with hearing protection, this could lessen the effect.

Loud Noises at Home

Loud noises in your house can also be a problem. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Consider other things you do at home that may be an issue:

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

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

Workplace Noise

Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s especially crucial to wear ear protection if you work in construction or are around machinery. Talk to your manager about your ear health; they might provide the ear protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.

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 change in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and think about ear protection.

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


Medication could also be the problem. Some drugs affect the ears and are known as ototoxic. Some common medications on the list include:

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

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

Tinnitus is an irritation for some people, but for others, it can be debilitating. The first step is to find out what’s causing it and then look at ways to keep it under control from day to day.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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