The Effects of Stress on Hearing and Tinnitus

In today’s fast-paced world, more and more people are stressed out. Prolonged stress can make you sleepless, affect your work performance, and strain your relationships. As if that wasn’t enough, new research shows that stress can also lead to hearing loss.

Understanding the Connection Between Stress and Hearing Health

Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, affecting various bodily functions, including blood circulation. This response, while beneficial in the short term, can have detrimental effects when sustained over time. 

For the auditory system, when your body responds to stress, blood circulation is disrupted and blood flow to the ears is reduced due to the overproduction of adrenaline. Unfortunately, the cells in your ears are fragile and rely heavily on a steady blood stream to receive oxygen and nutrients. Without this steady blood flow, the cells become damaged, affecting your ability to hear. Chronic stress can lead to gradual hearing loss, sudden hearing loss, and even tinnitus. 

The symptoms of hearing loss that’s due to stress include:

  • Pain or pressure in the ear
  • Muffled sounds
  • Tinnitus
  • Ears feel blocked or stuffed
  • Hearing loss in one or both ears

Stress and Tinnitus – What’s The Connection?

We now know that stress makes us more aware of tinnitus, which is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ear in the absence of external sound.

A recent study found that people with tinnitus said their symptoms began at a stressful period in their lives or got substantially worse at a stressful time. So you may find yourself in a cycle: stress makes your tinnitus worse, which in turn makes you feel more stressed or anxious.

If you suffer from tinnitus, the good news is that there are things you can do to manage it and reduce stress.

Strategies for Managing Stress and Protecting Your Hearing

Breaking the cycle between stress, hearing loss, and tinnitus requires a multifaceted approach focusing on stress management and auditory health. Here are some strategies to help manage stress and its effects on hearing:

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce stress levels and decrease the perception of tinnitus.

Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can alleviate stress and improve overall well-being, which may indirectly benefit hearing health.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintaining a balanced diet and ensuring adequate sleep can support the body’s ability to manage stress.

Professional Support: For those struggling with stress, hearing loss, or tinnitus, seeking support from psychologists, audiologists, or other healthcare providers is essential. Tailored management plans can address both the psychological and physiological aspects of these conditions.

Incorporating regular hearing evaluations into your healthcare routine can also identify any stress-related hearing issues early on, allowing for timely intervention and management.

Need Help? Have a Question? Contact Us Today!

At REM Audiology, our hearing care professionals are on hand to help you with your hearing needs. Hearing assessments are quick and painless, and treating your hearing loss can go a long way towards improving your quality of life. To book your appointment, call us today on (888) 710-5734. Alternatively, click here to contact us online.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.