Top 10 myths about tinnitus


Living with loud tinnitus is never easy, but most sufferers know that it’s the spikes that can drive you completely crazy.

A man experiences a spike in tinnitus intensity.
Knowing what triggers your tinnitus is

the first step to preventing spikes. 

If you’ve lived with tinnitus for a while, you’ve probably noticed that the sound isn’t always constant. It can fluctuate – wildly at times – and not just in volume, but in sound, intensity or number of sounds. These flare-ups are commonly known as tinnitus spikes.

Out of nowhere, it can suddenly seem much louder. You might hear horrible new noises that weren’t there before, noises you can’t ignore. Even if you’ve habituated and are no longer bothered by your tinnitus, spikes can still make you miserable.

The good news is that with a little bit of work, you can figure out exactly what’s causing your tinnitus to spike and eliminate it to improve your quality of life.

What causes tinnitus spikes?

Tinnitus spikes may seem to happen randomly, but more often than not, they’re triggered by something external in your environment or by some problematic aspect of your health or lifestyle.

The problem is that every case of tinnitus is unique, and the triggers that affect one person may not affect you at all, or could possibly even improve your tinnitus. There’s a lot of variance, but there are also quite a few commonly reported triggers.

Anecdotally, many people find that certain activities, foods, supplements, drugs and environmental factors can trigger fluctuations in the sound of their tinnitus.

Common tinnitus triggers include:

  • Certain noises 
  • Loud sound exposure
  • Stress/anxiety 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Certain medications 
  • Supplements and vitamins
  • Dehydration 
  • High sodium diet 
  • High sugar diet 
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine (all forms) 
  • Alcohol
  • Recreational drugs 
  • Food sensitivities 
  • Allergies 
  • Pollution 
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Specific changes in the weather or barometric pressure

Unfortunately, this is only a small selection of a much longer list that varies greatly from person to person. But simply understanding what might be triggering you is half the battle.

Discovering your tinnitus triggers

Glenn Schweitzer displaying his book
Author and tinnitus sufferer Glenn


The bigger problem is that there are far too many variables. It makes it hard to keep track of everything in your head.

For example, if your tinnitus spikes in the afternoon because of something you ate for breakfast, you probably won’t automatically spot the connection. But this type of missed association happens all the time. Most people are just not very good at noticing these kinds of patterns.

But with the right approach, you can overcome this natural limitation and spot the connections with ease. All you have to do is keep a journal.

When we have the right information in front of us, we’re actually very good at finding patterns. And once you can identify your personal tinnitus triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.

Not only will this help to reduce tinnitus spikes, but it will give you the information you need to make better decisions for your health and accurately report back to your doctor.

Tracking tinnitus

The final piece of the puzzle is knowing what to track.

There are a lot of moving parts and it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with information. To be successful, you need to focus your energy on tracking the data points that are most likely going to help you identify your triggers.

Obviously, you’ll need to keep track of your tinnitus throughout the day, making note of how much it’s bothering you, and how loud it seems.

But you also need to keep track of different aspects of your lifestyle, such as your diet, stress and anxiety levels, sleep patterns, noise exposure, medications, vitamins, supplements, allergies, exercise, along with any other variables that you suspect might be affecting your tinnitus.

Finding the patterns with my free tool

It’s a lot to keep track of, but this practice can be extremely effective. Because when you have the right information in front of you, organized in a way that makes it easy to spot the patterns, you can identify your triggers with ease and get relief.

Journal page
Glenn’s journal to help track tinnitus.

So, to make it easy for you, I created a free one-page PDF journal template to help you keep track all of the right information. Click here to download it for free!

All you have to do is print a few copies and fill one out each day. Once you’ve done this for at least a week or two, you can go back and compare the days that your tinnitus spiked, looking for commonalities. It makes it so much easier to find the patterns.

You can also compare the days when your tinnitus was at its best to help you identify your wellness triggers, the specific factors that are helping you to improve.

Don’t give up hope!

Throughout the process, you may find that your tinnitus is triggered by forces outside of your control, or worse, you might find that you’re unable to identify anything specific at all.

Either way, please don’t give up hope!

The idea is to look for correlations and general trends. It’s entirely possible that you just need more data for the patterns to become clear. And if you happen to discover triggers you can’t control, like changes in the weather, you can still focus your energy on avoiding the triggers you can control.

Discovering and avoiding your triggers can help considerably to reduce spikes. But more importantly, it offers you a measure of control, and a way to reclaim your personal power.

When you fully understand your tinnitus and your limitations, you can make more informed choices as you go about your day.

You can increase your quality of life, and that’s what matters most.

Tackling Tinnitus: Read more of Glenn Schweitzer’s columns


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