Millions of Americans experience tinnitus, which is described as a ringing or buzzing in the ear. Some have brief episodes, while others have chronic tinnitus that can last for months or even years.
If you have tinnitus, you may have noticed that your symptoms seem to spike in the winter months. If so, you’re not alone.
One study examined internet search trends for the term tinnitus in multiple countries from 2004-2013. Their findings “indicate that there are significant seasonal trends for Internet search queries for tinnitus, with a zenith in winter months.”
Why Can the Cold Make Tinnitus Worse?
There are many factors that can exacerbate tinnitus, some of which are more likely to be experienced in the winter months. They include:
- Increased nasal pressure from colds and the flu
- Cold weather causing an overproduction of earwax. This can lead to earwax potentially blocking the canal and muffling your hearing or causing temporary hearing loss, which can make tinnitus worse.
- Stress due to the holidays
- Seasonal anxiety and depression
- Poor sleep quality
Additionally, you may find yourself consuming more caffeine or alcohol in the winter months as well as getting less exercise, all of which can worsen tinnitus for some individuals as well.
How To Prevent Tinnitus Spikes in Winter
There are several steps you can take that can help minimize or prevent tinnitus spikes this winter. They include:
- Wearing hats or earmuffs to protect your ears from the cold
- Visit an ENT for earwax removal if you have signs of buildup
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Making an effort to stay physically active
- If you suffer from seasonal depression or anxiety, visit a counselor or speak with your doctor
Manage Tinnitus Year-round
No matter what time of year it is, if your tinnitus is affecting your quality of life, know that there are many things you can do to help manage the condition. This may include treatment options like noise suppression therapy, masking techniques and tinnitus retraining therapy.
Other tools that you may find beneficial include:
- Hearing aids (if your tinnitus is associated with hearing loss)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Stress management techniques like meditation or taking a class at Firelight Yoga
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, call Mt. Hood ENT & Allergy today.