hello world!

Can I Claim Sleep Apnea Secondary To Tinnitus?

Last updated: January 31, 2024

There is a bidirectional relationship between tinnitus and sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.[1]

Sleep apnea can potentially be claimed as a secondary condition to tinnitus, especially in cases like veterans' disability claims.

Establishing this claim requires robust medical evidence, including medical records and expert opinions, to demonstrate the causal link between tinnitus and sleep apnea.

Consulting healthcare professionals and legal experts is crucial in successfully navigating the complexities of claiming sleep apnea secondary to tinnitus.

Sleep apnea and tinnitus are two conditions that, on the surface, may seem unrelated. However, for many individuals, these conditions are intricately linked, impacting their quality of life and overall health. This article delves into the possibility of claiming sleep apnea as a secondary condition to tinnitus, a topic of growing interest and importance in the medical and legal realms.

The Basics: What are Sleep Apnea and Tinnitus?

Before exploring the connection between these two conditions, it's essential to understand them individually. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. These interruptions can lead to a host of health issues, including daytime fatigue, cardiovascular problems, and cognitive impairments.

Tinnitus, on the other hand, is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is present. It can be a symptom of various underlying conditions, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder. Tinnitus can lead to significant distress, impacting concentration, sleep, and overall mental health.

Fast Facts

Sleep apnea is a disorder marked by interrupted breathing during sleep, leading to various health issues.

The Link Between Tinnitus and Sleep Apnea

Emerging research suggests a bidirectional relationship between tinnitus and sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Tinnitus can be a source of stress and anxiety, which in turn can exacerbate sleep disturbances. Conversely, the poor sleep quality and frequent awakenings associated with sleep apnea can heighten the perception of tinnitus, creating a vicious cycle.

The Impact of Tinnitus on Sleep

Tinnitus can significantly disrupt sleep patterns. The constant ringing or buzzing sounds can make it difficult for individuals to fall asleep or stay asleep. This disruption can lead to insomnia, one of the most common sleep disorders associated with tinnitus.

Fast Facts

Tinnitus is the hearing of noise or ringing in the ears without an external sound source, often causing significant distress.

Sleep Apnea Exacerbating Tinnitus

Sleep apnea, particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), can worsen the symptoms of tinnitus. The repeated episodes of low oxygen levels during sleep in OSA can affect the auditory system, potentially intensifying the perception of tinnitus.

Claiming Sleep Apnea as a Secondary Condition to Tinnitus

Given the interconnection between these two conditions, individuals suffering from both may wonder if it's possible to claim sleep apnea as a secondary condition to tinnitus. This is particularly relevant in contexts like veterans' disability claims, where establishing a service connection for a secondary condition can impact the benefits received.

Understanding Secondary Service Connection

A secondary service connection is established when a service-related condition leads to the development of another condition. In the context of tinnitus and sleep apnea, if tinnitus is already recognized as a service-connected condition, and it can be medically proven that it has led to or exacerbated sleep apnea, then sleep apnea can be claimed as a secondary condition.

Fast Facts

Research indicates a bidirectional relationship between tinnitus and sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.[1]

The Importance of Medical Evidence

To successfully claim sleep apnea as secondary to tinnitus, robust medical evidence is crucial. This includes medical records, sleep study reports, and expert opinions linking sleep apnea to tinnitus. It's essential to demonstrate that the presence of tinnitus has directly contributed to the development or worsening of sleep apnea.

Challenges in Establishing the Connection

One of the challenges in claiming sleep apnea secondary to tinnitus is the complexity of proving the causal relationship. Unlike more straightforward secondary conditions, the link between tinnitus and sleep apnea is not always apparent and requires a nuanced understanding of both conditions.

Steps to Take in Claiming Sleep Apnea Secondary to Tinnitus

  • Gather Medical Documentation: Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnosis and treatment details for both tinnitus and sleep apnea.

  • Seek Expert Opinion: Consult with healthcare professionals who can provide insights into the connection between your tinnitus and sleep apnea. An expert opinion can significantly strengthen your claim.

  • Undergo a Sleep Study: If you haven't already, undergoing a sleep study can provide concrete evidence of sleep apnea and its severity.

  • Document Symptoms and Impacts: Keep a detailed record of how tinnitus affects your sleep and, in turn, how this impacts your daily life. This personal account can be a powerful supplement to your medical evidence.

  • Consult with a Legal Expert: Consider seeking advice from a lawyer or a claims specialist experienced in such cases. They can guide you through the process and help articulate your claim effectively.


Claiming sleep apnea as a secondary condition to tinnitus is a complex but viable path for those who suffer from both conditions. The key lies in understanding the intricate relationship between these two health issues and presenting a well-documented case that clearly establishes this connection. With the right approach and support, individuals can successfully navigate this process, leading to a better understanding and management of their conditions and potentially accessing additional benefits and support.

Explore your options when it comes to the secondary conditions for VA tinnitus claims you want to look into when making a claim. Learn more from our blogs at Disability Help.

Do You Qualify?
Disability Evaluation
Emilie Brown
Emilie Brown works with the Digital Marketing team at PREP, an AI-based remediation software that enables businesses to create WCAG and ADA-compliant PDFs in minutes. Her approach and methodology is simple, concise, and to the point and connect with readers seeking for solution-driven content on topics related to accessibility and remediation. Apart from her time at work she loves to spend time with her dog, volunteer and play her guitar.
Do You Qualify?
Disability Evaluation

Comments are closed.

17595 Harvard Ave. C2480-C Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 979-6850
© 2024 Disability Help. All Rights Reserved.
DMCA.com Protection Status
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram