14 Things That Can Make Tinnitus Worse

Loud Noises

When you have tinnitus — or ringing in your ears — many things can make those sounds worse. One of the most obvious is noise. Loud sounds from things like machinery, headphones, and concerts can cause short-term ringing or permanent hearing loss. Do what you can to avoid it. Move farther away. Wear earplugs. Turn down the volume. Don’t forget to protect kids’ ears, too.

Medicine

The list includes antibiotics, antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cancer drugs, diuretics, and high doses of aspirin. Usually the higher the dose, the greater your chance of problems. Often if you stop taking it, your symptoms will go away. Check with your doctor if you think your meds are to blame. But don’t stop any drug without talking to him first.

Stress

Yes, it can make the ringing seem louder. Find ways to relax and get it under control. You might try exercise, deep breathing, or biofeedback. Massage or acupuncture could also help. If you have trouble doing it alone, your doctor may be able to suggest relaxation tips.

Jaw Problems

Your jaw, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ), shares nerves and ligaments with your middle ear. Problems here can cause ear pain and noise in your ears. Your jaw might pop, and it could hurt to talk or chew. A dentist, oral surgeon, or otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT) can diagnose and treat it so the ringing doesn’t get worse.

Earwax

Your body makes this gunky stuff to trap dirt and protect your ears. But sometimes it builds up and can cause problems. That can lead to ringing and even temporary hearing loss. Your doctor can see if there’s a buildup in your ears and remove it gently. Don’t use cotton swabs to try to do it yourself.

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