Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for most of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But what’s the reason for this? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears isn’t a real noise but a complication of a medical problem like hearing loss, either lasting or temporary. But none of that information can give an explanation as to why this ringing becomes louder at night.
The truth is more common sense than you may think. But first, we have to learn a little more about this all-too-common disorder.
Tinnitus, what is it?
For most people, tinnitus isn’t a real sound, but this fact just compounds the confusion. It’s a noise no one else can hear. Your partner lying next to you in bed can’t hear it even though it sounds like a tornado to you.
Tinnitus is an indication that something is wrong, not a condition on its own. Substantial hearing loss is generally at the base of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss tends to be gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing starts. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these sounds, and they’re warning you of those changes.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest conundrums and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it happens. It may be a symptom of a number of medical problems including damage to the inner ear. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Tinnitus can indicate there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from sending electrical signals to the brain. These electrical messages are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly comprehend like a car horn or somebody talking.
The present theory pertaining to tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. The brain remains on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t come, it fills that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It gets perplexed by the lack of input from the ear and tries to compensate for it.
That would clarify some things when it comes to tinnitus. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, like age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some individuals.
Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?
You may 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. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet at night when you try to go to sleep.
All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it searches for sound to process. When confronted with total silence, it resorts to creating its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated 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 might get louder at night because it’s so quiet. Producing sound might be the solution for those who can’t sleep due to that irritating ringing in the ear.
How to produce 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 decrease the ringing.
But, there are also devices designed to help individuals who have tinnitus get to sleep. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise soothes the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Alternatively, you could go with an app that plays soothing sounds from your smartphone.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?
Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. For instance, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could be a contributing factor. Tinnitus also tends to get worse if you’re under stress and certain medical problems can lead to a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. Give us a call for an appointment if these suggestions aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are active.