If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. dealing with a medical condition known as tinnitus then you probably know that it often gets worse when you are trying to fall asleep. But why should this be? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears isn’t an actual noise but a complication of a medical issue like hearing loss, either lasting or temporary. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing gets louder at night.
The reality is more common sense than you may think. But first, we have to discover a little more about this all-too-common condition.
What is tinnitus?
To say tinnitus is not a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. It’s a noise 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 tornado to you.
Tinnitus is a sign that something is wrong, not a condition on its own. It is generally linked to substantial hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first sign that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is typically gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing begins. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these noises, and they’re alerting you of those changes.
What causes tinnitus?
Presently medical scientists and doctors are still not sure of exactly what causes tinnitus. It might be a symptom of numerous medical issues including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear has lots of tiny hair cells designed to vibrate in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny hairs get damaged to the point that they can’t efficiently send signals 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 absence of sound is the basis of the current hypothesis. Your brain will begin to compensate for information that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It gets confused by the lack of input from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.
When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify a few things. Why it can be a result of so many medical conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, high blood pressure, and concussions, for starters. That could also be why the symptoms get louder at night sometimes.
Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?
Unless you are profoundly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you know it or not. It hears very faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.
Suddenly, all the sound fades away and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one response when confronted with complete silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to induce hallucinations as the brain tries to insert information, such as auditory input, into a place where there isn’t any.
In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems louder. Producing sound might be the solution for people who can’t sleep because of that aggravating ringing in the ear.
How to generate noise at night
A fan running is often enough to decrease tinnitus symptoms for many people. Just the noise of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.
But, there are also devices made to help those with tinnitus get to sleep. White noise machines simulate nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. The soft noise calms the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play calming sounds.
What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?
Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can trigger an upsurge in your tinnitus. For example, if you’re drinking too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to worsen if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can trigger a flare-up, also, like high blood pressure. Contact us for an appointment if these tips aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are active.