Tinnitus often gets worse at night for most of the millions of people in the US that experience 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 lasting or temporary. Of course, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more frequently at night.
The reality is more common sense than you may think. But first, we need to learn a little more about this all-too-common disorder.
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 is able to hear. 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 not right, not a condition by itself. It is generally associated with substantial hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first indication that hearing loss is setting in. Hearing loss tends to be gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing starts. This phantom noise is a warning flag to warn you of a change in how you hear.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s greatest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension of why it happens. It may be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical conditions. The inner ear has many tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Tinnitus can indicate there is damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from delivering electrical messages to the brain. Your brain translates these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.
The absence of sound is the base of the current hypothesis. Your brain will start to compensate for signals that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It attempts to compensate for input that it’s not receiving.
That would explain a few things regarding tinnitus. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, such as 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 people.
Why does tinnitus get louder at night?
Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you realize it or not. It will faintly hear sounds coming from a different room or around the corner. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.
All of a sudden, the brain becomes confused as it listens for sound to process. It only knows one thing to do when faced with total silence – generate noise even if it’s not real. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to cause hallucinations as the brain attempts to insert information, like 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. Creating sound may be the solution for those who can’t sleep because of that irritating ringing in the ear.
How to create noise at night
A fan running is often enough to decrease tinnitus symptoms for many people. Just the sound of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.
But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to lessen tinnitus sounds. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are generated by these “white noise machines”. If you were to leave a TV on, it may be distracting, but white noise machines create soothing sounds that you can sleep through. As an alternative, you could go with an app that plays calming sounds from your smartphone.
Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms worse?
Your tinnitus symptoms can be amplified by other things besides lack of sound. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If introducing sound into your nighttime program doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn about treatment options by scheduling an appointment with us today.