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At Night, The Buzzing in my Ears Seems Louder

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

If you are one of the millions of individuals 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 why should this be? The buzzing or ringing in one or both ears is not a real noise but a side-effect of a medical issue like hearing loss, either lasting or temporary. Naturally, knowing what it is won’t explain why you have this buzzing, ringing, or whooshing noise more often at night.

The truth is more common sense than you may think. To know why your tinnitus gets louder as you attempt to sleep, you need to know the hows and whys of this very common medical problem.

What is tinnitus?

To say tinnitus is not a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is the case. The person dealing with tinnitus can hear the sound but nobody else can. 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 by itself is not a disease or condition, but a sign that something else is happening. Substantial hearing loss is generally the root of this disorder. For a lot of people, tinnitus is the first sign they get that their hearing is in jeopardy. People with hearing loss often don’t recognize their condition until the tinnitus symptoms begin because it progresses so slowly. This phantom noise is a warning flag to signal you of a change in your hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

Right now medical scientists and doctors are still uncertain of exactly what causes tinnitus. It could be a symptom of numerous medical issues including inner ear damage. The inner ear has lots of tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Often, when these little hairs become damaged to the point that they can’t effectively send messages to the brain, tinnitus symptoms occur. Your brain converts these electrical signals into recognizable sounds.

The present hypothesis pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. Your brain will start to fill in for signals that it’s waiting for because of hearing loss. It tries to compensate for input that it’s not getting.

When it comes to tinnitus, that would clarify some things. For starters, why it’s a symptom of so many different ailments that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. That may also be the reason why the symptoms get worse at night sometimes.

Why are tinnitus sounds louder at night?

Unless you are significantly deaf, your ear picks up some sounds during the day whether you recognize it or not. 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.

All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it listens for sound to process. When confronted with complete silence, it resorts to making its own internal sounds. Hallucinations, including phantom sounds, are often the result of sensory deprivation as the brain attempts to create input where there isn’t any.

In other words, your tinnitus could get worse at night because it’s so quiet. If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your tinnitus symptoms are so loud, producing some noise might be the answer.

How to produce noise at night

For some individuals dealing with tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the sound of the motor is enough to decrease the ringing.

But, there are also devices designed to help people 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 disruptive enough to keep you awake like keeping the TV on may do. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play calming sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Your tinnitus symptoms can be worsened by other things besides lack of sound. For instance, if you’re indulging in too much alcohol before you go to bed, that could be a contributing factor. Tinnitus also tends to become severe if you’re stressed out and certain medical issues can result in a flare-up, too, like high blood pressure. Contact us for an appointment if these suggestions aren’t helping or if you’re feeling dizzy when your tinnitus symptoms are present.

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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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