The Most Common Causes of Tinnitus Flare-ups and Spikes

While there’s currently no known cure for tinnitus, the level of ringing or noise can vary greatly from day to day. An increase in the intensity of sound, a change in the tone or pitch, starting to hear new sounds, or simply being more aware of the constant ringing is known as a tinnitus spike.

These spikes can’t be treated, but they can be controlled. Most people who suffer from tinnitus can identify what triggers a spike by carefully monitoring their activities and the level of distress that tinnitus is causing them at that time.

By understanding what triggers your tinnitus spikes, you can take steps to avoid them and cope with them better.

Common Tinnitus Triggers

So what causes a spike in tinnitus? Anything that causes stress to your body or mind can trigger a flare-up. Everyone has different triggers, but some of the most common include:
  • Lack of sleep or poor sleep patterns
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Exposure to loud noises such as from construction, traffic, or loud music
  • Trigger sounds (specific to the individual)
  • Certain medications
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Poor diet (generally too much salt or sugar)
  • Dehydration
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs
  • Pollution
  • Air pressure changes caused by weather systems
  • Air travel

How to Identify Your Tinnitus Triggers

If you suffer from tinnitus, it’s a good idea to keep a diary to track your symptoms. This can help you to identify any potential factors that might be making your tinnitus worse.

Make a note of everything you eat and drink each day, any exercise you do, the weather conditions, any medications or supplements you take, the time you went to sleep and woke up, and the level of your tinnitus on a scale of 1 to 10.

You may not be able to identify any specific triggers for quite some time. But be patient and consistent, and you may start to recognise patterns in what causes tinnitus to flare up.

How to Avoid Tinnitus Flare-Ups

Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and avoiding stress as much as possible is the best way to control your tinnitus and avoid spikes.

Keep a consistent sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Try to make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

Avoid too much salt and sugar in your diet and experiment with eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if it helps. For example, some people may have a sensitivity to dairy and find it increases their tinnitus.

Keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum, or try cutting them out completely to see if it helps. Nicotine can also be a trigger, so take steps to wean yourself off cigarettes or vaping.

Tips for Dealing with Tinnitus Spikes

Doing relaxation and mindfulness exercises such as meditation, deep breathing, and journaling can be an effective way to focus your mind so it’s not as distracted by the ringing in your ears.

Background noise such as the white noise made by a fan or rain can be helpful for many people. There are plenty of white noise soundtracks available on YouTube to experiment with. You could even try an app like ReSound, which is specially programmed with sounds designed to distract your brain from tinnitus.

Some hearing aids are designed to provide relief from tinnitus. For more information, contact the team at Connect Hearing to find out how these devices work and if they may be helpful for you.

Remember, you can’t control your tinnitus. Getting frustrated about a flare-up will only cause you to become more stressed, which can actually make your symptoms worse. Focus on doing whatever you can to make yourself more relaxed, and keep busy to distract yourself from the sound as much as you can.

For more advice about dealing with tinnitus, book an appointment with a hearing care professional at Connect Hearing. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, so it’s a good idea to have a regular hearing test if you’re 40 or older. Sudden onset of tinnitus without exposure to loud noises can also be an indication of underlying medical issues, so it’s best to seek medical advice if you’ve suddenly started experiencing it.