Tinnitus, which is characterized by a seemingly phantom ringing in the ears, is a common problem. While it can be a sign of hearing loss, of the nearly 30 million Americans with the condition, 44% haven’t experienced a decline in hearing.
Tinnitus can be caused by several things, from something as simple as a buildup of ear wax to something far more serious, like a head injury.
Anyone who experiences tinnitus beyond the occasional, random occurrence should be examined by a doctor. The cause could be something mild and easily treatable, but it could also be a sign of permanent hearing loss, damage to the inner ear or an underlying health condition. Only a qualified doctor, like an ENT, can properly diagnose the cause.
Since tinnitus is considered a symptom, anything that further aggravates the underlying cause is going to make it worse. The constant ringing or chirping is bad enough without additional stimuli to amplify the severity.
Regardless of the cause, there are several things – commonly referred to as tinnitus triggers – that almost always make it worse.
The 5 Most Common Tinnitus Triggers Explained
Unless there is an underlying treatable cause, most people with tinnitus will be prone to repeated occurrences throughout their life. And even when a treatable cause is identified, the unpleasant symptom can be bothersome during treatment. In both cases, it’s important to take steps to avoid triggers that could make it worse.
Here are 5 most common tinnitus triggers:
- Noise – Excessively loud noise, like what you might encounter at a construction site or concert, can cause short term ringing in the ears. It can also make existing tinnitus worse. On the other side of this is silence. Silence itself won’t make it worse, but the lack of background noise can make the ringing more noticeable.
- Excessive Ear Wax – Earwax is normal and acts as a protective barrier that keeps the inner ear safe from bacteria, dust and other irritants. Earwax usually makes its way out of the ear on its own, but in the case of an overproduction, the accumulation of earwax can put pressure on the eardrum and affect the way it vibrates.
- Stress and Fatigue – Most people with tinnitus say that it gets worse when they’re tired or stressed. Headaches, inflammation and additional pressure in the ear area are common when stress and fatigue are present and can contribute to a worsening of symptoms.
- Medications – Certain medications can affect on the inner ear. These medications include NSAIDS, certain antibiotics and some antidepressants. If you think tinnitus might be worse because of a medication, speak with your doctor before discontinuing treatment on your own.
- Smoking cigarettes – Smoking works as a vasoconstrictor that narrows the blood vessels. In some cases, the lack of oxygenated blood that reaches the inner ear can induce or exaggerate tinnitus.
Learn More About Tinnitus and What Makes It Worse
Tinnitus is not a symptom to ignore. Not only is the constant ringing bothersome, it can also be a sign of hearing loss or other health issues. Often, it can be treated, but only if the underlying cause is identified. This can’t happen without the help of an ENT specialist experienced with Tinnitus patients. You don’t have to live with the ringing. Contact our office today at (561) 349-6624 to learn more about tinnitus and your treatment options.