Hearcare  INC., & Associates - Sherman & Gainesville, TX

Man in bed at night suffering insomnia from severe tinnitus and ringing in the ear.

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 ringing is a phantom noise due to some medical disorder like hearing loss, it’s not an external sound. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing becomes louder during the night.

The reality is more common sense than you might think. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common disorder.

Tinnitus, what is it?

For most individuals, tinnitus isn’t an actual sound, but this fact just adds to the confusion. It’s a noise no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are ringing in your ears but the person sleeping right near you can’t hear it at all.

Tinnitus is a sign that something is not right, not a condition on its own. Substantial hearing loss is normally the root of this disorder. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is setting in. People with hearing loss frequently don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms start because it develops so slowly. Your hearing is changing if you start to hear these noises, and they’re alerting you of those changes.

What causes tinnitus?

Presently medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what causes tinnitus. It could be a symptom of inner ear damage or a number of other possible medical issues. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that move in response to sound. Tinnitus often means there’s damage to those hair cells, enough to keep them from transmitting electrical signals to the brain. These electrical signals are how the brain converts sound into something it can clearly interpret like a car horn or someone talking.

The present hypothesis regarding tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. Your brain will begin to fill in for information that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It attempts to compensate for input that it’s not receiving.

That would clarify a few things when it comes to tinnitus. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, to begin with. That may also be why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds worse at night?

You might not even realize 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. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.

Abruptly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain increases in response. When faced with total silence, it resorts to creating its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, like phantom sounds, are often the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where none exists.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems worse. If you are having a difficult time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, creating some noise might be the answer.

Generating 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 reduce the ringing.

But, there are also devices designed to help those who have tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to leave a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines produce soothing sounds that you can sleep through. Instead, you could try 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 increase in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more extreme tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to get worse if you’re under stress and certain medical issues can lead to a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. If adding sound into your nighttime program 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.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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