Tinnitus Spikes 101: Why Does My Tinnitus Sometimes Get Louder?

Tinnitus Spikes 101

Tinnitus spikes are discrete periods where one’s tinnitus gets perceptibly louder. These spikes often occur out of nowhere, and can trigger further anxiety, stress, and worry. While the causes of tinnitus spikes might be hard to pinpoint, there is a general consensus about the most common factors that can contribute to them.

Dr. Ben Thompson and Dr. Michelle Neidleman-Kennedy discuss the possible factors contributing to tinnitus spikes

Types Of Tinnitus Spikes

Generally, there are two kinds of tinnitus spikes that patients tend to experience. The first entails a short burst of tinnitus that lasts around 10 to 30 seconds, and can sometimes occur only in one ear. These kinds of spikes are common even to those patients who have successfully habituated to their tinnitus, and thus they aren’t usually worth worrying about.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
Which Treble Health solution is right for you?

The second, more significant kind of tinnitus spike is one that entails an increase in tinnitus pitch over the course of hours or even days, and will typically occur in both ears. 

5 Major Causes Of Tinnitus Spikes

If you have ever wondered what is causing your tinnitus to all of a sudden get louder, there are 5 main causes we will discuss.

1. Lack of mental stimulation

If you are sitting in a quiet environment and not engaging in any kind of mental task, your brain might latch on to whatever stimulus is present—in this case, your tinnitus—and subsequently amplify it.

2. Stress or anxiety

Tinnitus is inextricably linked to the body’s stress response, so periods of stress or anxiety in our lives can be responsible for amplifying tinnitus volume and creating a persistent spike. Potential stressors can run the gamut from work- and family-related responsibilities to politics, watching the news, or any other phenomenon capable of igniting our nervous system. 

3. Insomnia or fatigue

Lack of sleep or poor sleep affects the brain and body significantly, and thereby can trigger a tinnitus spike. Tinnitus can often be conceived as a barometer of our health, so whenever our body’s feeling off we may be susceptible to a tinnitus spike. It’s also important to distinguish between brief and prolonged tinnitus spikes. Brief spikes that last 30 seconds or less are common when waking up in the middle of the night or after any period of sleep, and generally aren’t worth worrying about.

4. Loud noise exposure 

Unanticipated exposure to any kind of loud noise can trigger a neurological response where auditory cells have been overstimulated and partially damaged, thereby resulting in a tinnitus spike. Loud noise exposure can also trigger a psychological response where you become worried about aggravating your tinnitus and in the process conjure a response where your tinnitus gets louder.

5. Triggered memories 

Trigger memories are past experiences associated with a psychological experience of tinnitus. Whenever we encounter a past experience or relive a memory that reminds us of our tinnitus, our brain may respond accordingly and increase tinnitus volume. Trigger memories and experiences can be as simple as watching a video about tinnitus and being reminded of one’s own tinnitus.

How To Deal With Tinnitus Spikes

Overall, it’s important to remember that while tinnitus spikes will come and go, they generally aren’t worth worrying about as long as you are focused on the habituation process and are equipped with the necessary cognitive tools to manage stress and anxiety. Sometimes we don’t know why tinnitus gets louder but we don’t need to know in order to get better, the tinnitus treatment remains the same. 

Next Step: Take The Tinnitus Quiz

More To Explore


Treble Health Audiologists Are
Professional Members Of The


Tinnitus Web Class
THIS Wednesday only

A special online event to help you find relief from tinnitus.

Class starts Weds at 8 p.m. EST.

Memorial Day Special Offer

Save 20% On The Best Bundle For Tinnitus Relief

Only Available Until Tuesday, May 30th

By clicking ‘Unlock $700 Off’, you consent to receiving information about Treble products and services via email and accept Treble’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.