If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. suffering from a medical disorder known as tinnitus then you most likely know that it often gets worse when you are attempting to go to sleep. But what’s the reason for this? The ringing is a phantom sound due to some medical disorder like hearing loss, it isn’t an outside sound. But none of that information can give a reason why this ringing becomes louder at night.
The reality is more common sense than you probably think. But first, we need to discover a little more about this all-too-common condition.
What is tinnitus?
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 beside you can’t hear it at all.
Tinnitus by itself is not a disease or disorder, but a sign that something else is wrong. It is typically linked to substantial hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently the first indication that hearing loss is Taking hold. Hearing loss is often gradual, so they don’t notice it until that ringing or buzzing begins. Your hearing is changing if you begin to hear these sounds, and they’re warning you of those changes.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of medical science’s biggest mysteries and doctors don’t have a strong comprehension 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 move in response to sound. 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 current theory regarding tinnitus has to do with the absence of sound. Your brain will begin to compensate for signals 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.
That would explain a few things when it comes to tinnitus. Why it can be caused by so many medical conditions, like 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 are tinnitus sounds worse at night?
You might not even realize it, but your ear is picking up some sounds during the day. It will faintly pick up sounds coming from a different room or around the corner. At the very least, you hear your own voice, but that all stops during the night when you try to go to sleep.
All of a sudden, the brain becomes confused as it listens for sound to process. When faced with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Sensory deprivation has been demonstrated to cause hallucinations as the brain tries to insert information, like 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.
Generating noise at night
For some individuals suffering from tinnitus, all they need is a fan running in the background. Just the noise of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.
But you can also get devices that are exclusively made to reduce tinnitus sounds. White noise machines replicate nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. The soft sound soothes the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the ability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.
What else can worsen tinnitus symptoms?
Your tinnitus symptoms can be worsened by other things besides lack of sound. For example, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before bed, that could contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus also tends to get worse if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can result in a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. If introducing sound into your nighttime routine doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is active, it’s time to learn about treatment solutions by scheduling an appointment with us today.