Man on plane whose ringing in the ears worsened.

With tinnitus, it’s common to have good and bad days 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 is tough to understand is why it’s virtually non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so intrusive. It is not entirely clear why this occurs, but some typical triggers might explain it.

What Is Tinnitus?

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

  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • Ringing
  • Buzzing

You hear it, the guy right next to you doesn’t, which is one thing that 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?

Changes in a person’s hearing are the most common cause. These changes might be due to:

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

Some other potential causes include:

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

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

If your tinnitus has just started, consult your doctor and learn what is going on with your ears. The issue might be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease. It could also be a side effect of a new medication.

Why Does the Ringing Get Worse on Some Days?

For those who have tinnitus it’s a medical mystery why it gets worse on some days. The reason could be different for each person, also. There are known triggers that might explain it, though.

Loud Events

Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks. The best way to go is to put in ear protection if you expect to be exposed to a lot of noise. They make earplugs, for instance, that will allow you to enjoy music at a concert but reduce the impact it has on your ears.

You can also stay away from the source of the sound. When you go to a fireworks display don’t sit 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 a problem. For example, mowing the lawn is enough to trigger tinnitus. Consider other things you do at home that may be an issue:

  • Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
  • Laundry – For example, if you fold clothes while the washer is running.
  • Wearing headphones – The function 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.

If you can’t avoid loud noises at least put in hearing protection.

Workplace Noise

Loud noises at work are just as harmful as any other. If you work around machinery or in construction it’s particularly crucial to use ear protection. Talk to your boss about your ear health; they will probably supply the hearing protection you need. Spend your off time letting your ears rest, too.

Air Pressure Changes

When most people fly they experience ear popping. The change in air pressure plus the noise from the plane engines can result in an increase in tinnitus. If you are traveling, take some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and consider ear protection.

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


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

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

If you’re experiencing an intensifying of your tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription, talk to your doctor. It might be possible to switch to something else.

For some people tinnitus is not just irritating it’s debilitating. The first step is to figure out what’s causing it and then look at ways to control it from day to day.