Tinnitus often gets worse at night for the majority of the millions of people in the US that suffer with it. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom noise caused by some medical condition like hearing loss, it’s not an outside sound. Of course, knowing what it is will not clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.
The truth is more common sense than you might think. To know why your tinnitus gets louder as you attempt to sleep, you need to understand the hows and whys of this extremely common medical issue.
Tinnitus, what is it?
To say tinnitus is not an actual sound just compounds the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. It’s a noise no one else can hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right beside you can’t hear it at all.
Tinnitus by itself isn’t a disease or condition, but an indication that something else is happening. It is generally associated with significant hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Individuals with hearing loss frequently don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it progresses so gradually. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re warning you of those changes.
What causes tinnitus?
At this time medical scientists and doctors are still not sure of exactly what triggers tinnitus. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical conditions. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Often, when these tiny hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t efficiently send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. These electrical messages are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly interpret like a car horn or somebody talking.
The present theory 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 sound of tinnitus. It tries to compensate for input that it’s not getting.
When it comes to tinnitus, that would explain some things. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different conditions that affect the ear: minor infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. That may also be the reason why the symptoms get louder at night sometimes.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear receives some sounds during the day whether you recognize it or not. It hears very faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet during the night when you try to go to sleep.
Abruptly, all the sound vanishes and the level of confusion in the brain increases in response. It only knows one thing to do when confronted with total silence – create noise even if it’s not real. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to create input where there isn’t any.
In other words, your tinnitus might get louder at night because it’s so quiet. If you’re having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise might be the answer.
Generating noise at night
For some people dealing with tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. The loudness of the ringing is decreased just by the sound of the fan motor.
But, there are also devices designed to help people who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. The soft noise soothes the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on might do. Instead, you could go with an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.
What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can trigger an increase in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. Contact us for an appointment if these suggestions aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are active.