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 individuals who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition that more than 45 million Americans experience, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also suffer from some amount of hearing loss.

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 common triggers may explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this happens.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring

You hear it, the guy beside you doesn’t, which is part of what 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.

Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?

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

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

A few other possible causes include:

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

Sometimes there is no apparent explanation for tinnitus.

If your tinnitus is new, see your doctor and find out what is happening with your ears. The problem might be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it could be something treatable. It might also be a side effect of a new medication.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

For those who suffer from tinnitus it’s a medical mystery why it gets worse on some days. And there could be more than one reason depending on the person. There are known triggers that could explain it, though.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. The number one option is to put in ear protection if you expect to be exposed to a lot of noise. They make earplugs, for example, that will permit you to enjoy music at a live performance but reduce the effect it has on your hearing.

You can also keep away from the source of the sound. When you attend a fireworks display don’t go up front and avoid the front row at a live performance. With this and ear protection, the impact to your ears will be decreased.

Loud Noises at Home

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

  • Woodworking – The tools you use are enough to cause a problem
  • Wearing headphones – The purpose of headphones is to boost the volume of your audio which could be aggravating your tinnitus so it might be time to lose those earbuds.
  • Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.

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

Noises at Work

Loud noises on the job are just as harmful as any other. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s especially important to use hearing protection. Your employer will most likely supply ear protection if you inform them of your worries. Let your ears rest during your off time.

Changes in Air Pressure

Most people have experienced ear popping when they fly. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of the noise of the plane engine and the shift in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and think about hearing protection.

You can experience changes in pressure without leaving your home, too. If you have sinus issues, for instance, consider taking medication to help alleviate them.


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

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

If you’re experiencing a worsening of your tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription, consult your doctor. Changing to something else could be a possibility.

Tinnitus is an aggravation for some people, but for others, it can be 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.