The Most Common Tinnitus Triggers

November 2, 2023
3 mins
Michael Piskosz
Dr. Fabrice Bardy


For many people, getting through the day with tinnitus is a struggle. Certain events, or behaviors can trigger an exacerbation of tinnitus. Understanding these triggers can be helpful for managing and potentially preventing the discomfort associated with tinnitus. Below are some of the most common triggers that have been linked to tinnitus, shedding light on how factors such as reducing noise exposure and stress, and improving sleep quality and dietary habits can play a role in tinnitus management.

Factors such as noise exposure, feeling stressed and poor diet can be triggers for tinnitus.

Common tinnitus triggers:

1. Noise: Noise, whether from using heavy machinery, music concerts, or personal audio devices, is a leading trigger for tinnitus. Many people with tinnitus also struggle with sound sensitivity. Exposure to loud levels and prolonged noise can trigger this sensitivity, creating a feeling of stress and uneasiness, which can exacerbate tinnitus perception. Using hearing protection when in these environments can help limit your exposure to noise and mitigate this trigger. Identifying these environments and managing your exposure to them is another way to reduce the opportunity for noise to trigger your tinnitus.

2. Stress & Anxiety: Stress, anxiety, and emotional distress have a significant impact on tinnitus perception. Psychological factors can increase awareness of tinnitus sounds, making them seem more intrusive and bothersome. Strategies like relaxation techniques, counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help manage this trigger.

3. Sleep deprivation: Sleep deprivation is often associated with increased stress and anxiety levels, as well as poor functionality and overall performance. Elevated stress and anxiety can amplify tinnitus perception, as psychological factors play a significant role in how tinnitus is experienced. Using sound therapy to help facilitate sleep is a great way to improve sleep quality.

4. Earwax: Buildup of excessive earwax may trigger tinnitus. While earwax is natural and protective, a full blockage of the ear canal can lead to temporary hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms. You should see a doctor, audiologist, or ENT specialist for an accurate assessment and removal, as DIY techniques can worsen the problem.

5. Medication: A common but sometimes unexpected trigger for tinnitus is certain medications. A range of drugs, including some chemotherapeutics, antibiotics, diuretics, and high doses of aspirin, can result in temporary or even permanent tinnitus as a side effect. Known as 'ototoxic' ,drugs, these medications can interfere with the inner ear. If you notice the onset or worsening of tinnitus symptoms after starting a new medication, consult your healthcare provider for alternative options.

6. Diet: Although more evidence is needed, certain dietary factors, such as high intake of sugar and salt, saturated/trans fats, caffeine and alcohol can trigger tinnitus in certain individuals. Limiting the intakes of these may help reduce tinnitus perception and improve overall quality of life. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietician who can provide the proper guidance for your specific needs.  

How MindEar can help you in your tinnitus journey

MindEar offers a range of scientifically-backed solutions that can help you manage your tinnitus symptoms effectively. In the MindEar app you will find a soundscape library offering a variety of adjustable soundscapes to help you find the sound sound therapy that works best for you. You can also talk to a tinnitus expert to help determine if a sound masker is right for you. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques are also accessible to provide you with the tools to take control of your condition so that you can live a life without noticing it. MindEar is here to guide you on that journey.

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Understanding these common triggers is essential for both prevention and management strategies. By addressing these triggers through awareness, protective measures, and medical guidance, you can better navigate the challenges posed by tinnitus. To learn strategies to help mitigate these triggers, download the MindEar app and find tinnitus relief.

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