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

Tinnitus tends to get worse at night for the majority of the millions of individuals in the US that experience it. But why should this be? The ringing or buzzing in one or both ears is not an actual noise but a side-effect of a medical problem like hearing loss, either permanent or temporary. Of course, knowing what it is won’t clarify why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often during the 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?

To say tinnitus is not an actual sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most people, that is true. It’s a noise no one else is able to hear. It sounds like air-raid sirens are going off in your ears but the person sleeping right beside you can’t hear it at all.

Tinnitus alone is not a disease or condition, but a sign that something else is wrong. Substantial hearing loss is normally at the base of this disorder. For a lot of people, tinnitus is the first indication they get that their hearing is in jeopardy. 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?

Presently medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what causes tinnitus. It might be a symptom of inner ear damage or numerous other possible medical conditions. There are tiny hair cells inside of your ears that move in response to sound. Often, when these tiny hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send signals to the brain, tinnitus symptoms happen. Your brain translates these electrical signals into identifiable sounds.

The present theory pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. The brain stays on the alert to get these messages, so when they don’t arrive, it fills in that space with the phantom noise of tinnitus. It tries to compensate for sound that it’s not getting.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify some things. For one, why it’s a symptom of so many different illnesses that impact the ear: minor 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 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. But during the night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets very quiet.

Abruptly, all the sound disappears and the level of confusion in the brain rises in response. It only knows one response when faced with total silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are frequently the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems louder. Creating sound might be the remedy for people who can’t sleep due to that irritating ringing in the ear.

Generating noise at night

For some people dealing with tinnitus, all they need is a fan running in the background. The loudness of the ringing is reduced just by the sound of the fan motor.

But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to lessen tinnitus sounds. White noise machines replicate environmental sounds like rain or ocean waves. If you were to keep a TV on, it might be disruptive, but white noise machines create calming sounds that you can sleep through. Instead, you could try an app that plays soothing sounds from your smartphone.

What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can cause an increase in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can lead to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also be a contributing factor. If introducing 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.

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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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