Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for most of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But why would this be? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears is not a real noise but a side-effect of a medical issue 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 need to discover a little more about this all-too-common disorder.
Tinnitus, what is it?
To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most people, that is the case. The person with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. Your partner sleeping next to you in bed can’t hear it although it sounds like a tornado to you.
Tinnitus is an indication that something is not right, not a condition on its own. Substantial hearing loss is usually at the base of this disorder. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Individuals who have hearing loss often don’t notice their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it progresses so slowly. This phantom noise is a warning flag to signal you of a change in how you hear.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong understanding of why it happens. It may be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical conditions. There are very small hair cells inside of your ears that vibrate in response to sound. Tinnitus can indicate there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from delivering electrical messages to the brain. These electrical messages are how the brain translates sound into something it can clearly comprehend like a car horn or someone talking.
The absence of sound is the basis of the current hypothesis. The brain remains on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It tries to compensate for sound that it’s not receiving.
That would clarify a few things about tinnitus. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different conditions that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets worse at night for some individuals.
Why does tinnitus get worse at night?
You may not even notice it, but your ear receives some sounds during the day. It will faintly hear sounds coming from another room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all goes quiet at night when you try to fall asleep.
Abruptly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain goes up in response. It only knows one thing to do when faced with complete silence – create noise even if it’s not real. Hallucinations, such as phantom sounds, are frequently the result of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to produce input where there isn’t any.
In other words, your tinnitus could get worse at night because it’s so quiet. If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise might be the solution.
How to generate noise at night
For some people dealing with tinnitus, all they need is a fan running in the background. Just the noise of the motor is enough to decrease the ringing.
But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to reduce tinnitus sounds. Environmental sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise soothes the tinnitus but isn’t disruptive enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Alternatively, 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 bring about an upsurge in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re under stress and certain medical problems can trigger a flare-up, also, like high blood pressure. If adding sound into your nighttime routine doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn about treatment solutions by scheduling an appointment with us right away.