At Night, the Buzzing in my Ears Seems Louder

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 people in the US that suffer with it. But why would this be? The buzzing or ringing 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 becomes louder at night.

The truth is more common sense than you may think. But first, we need to learn a little more about this all-too-common condition.

Tinnitus, what is it?

To say tinnitus isn’t a real sound just adds to the confusion, but, for most individuals, that is true. It’s a noise no one else can 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 is an indication that something is wrong, not a condition by itself. Substantial hearing loss is usually at the base of this condition. Tinnitus is often the first sign that hearing loss is setting in. Hearing loss is often gradual, so they don’t detect it until that ringing or buzzing begins. This phantom noise is a warning flag to signal you of a change in how you hear.

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 a number of medical issues including damage to the inner ear. The inner ear has many tiny hair cells made to vibrate in response to sound waves. Sometimes, when these tiny 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 identifiable sounds.

The current theory pertaining to tinnitus is about the absence of sound. The brain remains on the alert to receive these messages, so when they don’t come, it fills in that space with the phantom sound of tinnitus. It gets perplexed by the lack of feedback from the ear and attempts to compensate for it.

That would explain some things when it comes to tinnitus. For one, why it’s a symptom of so many different ailments that affect the ear: mild infections, concussions, and age-related hearing loss. It also tells you something about why the ringing gets louder at night for some individuals.

Why are tinnitus sounds worse at night?

You may not even detect it, but your ear receives some sounds during the day. It hears really faintly the music or the TV playing in the other room. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, it gets really quiet.

All of a sudden, the brain is thrown into confusion as it searches for sound to process. It only knows one response when confronted with complete silence – create noise even if it isn’t real. Hallucinations, such as phantom sounds, are frequently the outcome of sensory deprivation as the brain tries to produce input where there isn’t any.

In other words, it’s too quiet at night so your tinnitus seems worse. Creating sound may be the solution for individuals who can’t sleep due to that annoying ringing in the ear.

How to generate noise at night

For some people suffering from tinnitus, all they require is a fan running in the background. Just the noise of the motor is enough to quiet the ringing.

But, there are also devices made to help individuals who have tinnitus get to sleep. Natural sounds, like ocean waves or rain, are produced by these “white noise machines”. The soft noise soothes the tinnitus but isn’t distracting enough to keep you awake like leaving the TV on might do. Your smartphone also has the capability to download apps that will play soothing sounds.

Can anything else make tinnitus symptoms louder?

Lack of sound isn’t the only thing that can cause an upsurge in your tinnitus. Too much alcohol before bed can contribute to more severe tinnitus symptoms. Other things, including high blood pressure and stress can also contribute to your symptoms. If introducing sound into your nighttime regimen doesn’t help or you feel dizzy when the ringing is present, it’s time to learn about treatment solutions by making an appointment with us today.


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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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