Tinnitus often gets worse at night for most of the millions of people in the US that suffer with it. But why should this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears is not a real noise but a side-effect 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 frequently during the night.
The real reason is pretty straightforward. To know why your tinnitus increases 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 isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. The person dealing with tinnitus can hear the sound but no one else can. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a maelstrom to you.
Tinnitus is an indication that something is wrong, not a condition on its own. It is typically associated with substantial hearing loss. For a lot of people, tinnitus is the first sign they get that their hearing is at risk. People with hearing loss often don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it develops so slowly. Your hearing is changing if you start to hear these sounds, and they’re warning you of those changes.
What causes tinnitus?
Presently medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what causes tinnitus. It may be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical conditions. The inner ear contains lots of tiny hair cells designed to move in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. These electrical messages are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly comprehend like a car horn or a person speaking.
The present hypothesis pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will start to compensate for information that it’s not getting because of hearing loss. It attempts to compensate for sound that it’s not receiving.
That would clarify some things regarding tinnitus. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. That may also be the reason why the symptoms get louder at night sometimes.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
Unless you are significantly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you recognize it or not. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing somewhere close by. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet at night when you try to fall asleep.
All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it listens for sound to process. It only knows one thing to do when confronted with total silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Sensory deprivation has been shown to trigger hallucinations as the brain tries to insert information, including auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.
In other words, your tinnitus may get worse at night because it’s too quiet. If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, producing some noise may be the solution.
How to create noise at night
For some people suffering from 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 those who have tinnitus get to sleep. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. If you were to leave a TV on, it may be disruptive, but white noise machines generate calming sounds that you can sleep through. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play calming sounds.
What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?
Your tinnitus symptoms can be exacerbated by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Other things, like high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. Contact us for an appointment if these tips aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are active.