Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for the majority of the millions of individuals in the US that suffer with it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears isn’t an actual noise but a complication of a medical problem like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often during the night.
The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases as you try to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this really common medical problem.
What is tinnitus?
For the majority of people, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. It’s a sound no one else can hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.
Tinnitus alone isn’t a disease or disorder, but an indication that something else is happening. Substantial hearing loss is normally at the base of this disorder. For a lot of people, tinnitus is the first indication they get that their hearing is in jeopardy. Hearing loss is typically gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing begins. This phantom noise is a warning flag to signal you of a change in your hearing.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest conundrums and doctors don’t have a clear understanding of why it happens. It may be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical conditions. The inner ear contains lots of tiny hair cells designed to vibrate in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these little hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send signals to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. Your brain translates these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.
The present hypothesis regarding tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. The brain remains on the alert to receive these messages, so when they don’t come, it fills that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It attempts to compensate for sound that it’s not getting.
When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain some things. For one, why it’s a symptom of so many different illnesses that affect the ear: minor infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some individuals.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
You might not even detect it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.
Abruptly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain goes up in response. When faced with total silence, it resorts to producing its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, such as phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to create input where none exists.
In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems louder. Creating sound might be the solution for those who can’t sleep due to that irritating ringing in the ear.
Producing noise at night
For some individuals suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the sound of the motor is enough to reduce the ringing.
But, there are also devices made to help people with tinnitus get to sleep. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. The soft sound soothes the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can cause an upsurge in your tinnitus. For example, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before bed, that could be a contributing factor. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can trigger a flare-up, also, like high blood pressure. If introducing sound into your nighttime program doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to learn about treatment options by making an appointment with us today.