Have you been experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety? Stress is linked to numerous health problems, like insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. Chronic stress can also lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
What is Stress?
In small doses, stress is very beneficial. Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight response, sending us into action. When faced with a stressor, the stress response sends blood rushing to our muscles, increases our heart rate, and gives us an extra burst of energy. This is great if you suddenly come face to face with a lion, but in our modern society, the stress response isn’t so beneficial. In our fast-paced lives full of stressors, we may live in a constant state of stress. It wears us down and exhausts our bodies. Along with the emotional drain of being constantly anxious, stress can also weaken the immune system, cause headaches, affect heart health, and yes, even lead to hearing loss.
Does Stress Affect Hearing?
Our ears rely on a steady supply of oxygenated blood and good circulation. Anything that restricts circulation, from heart disease to smoking to hypertension, can damage your hearing. Stress also disrupts circulation to the ears, sending blood rushing to other parts of the body instead. When you experience chronic stress, the cells in the ear can become damaged or even die, leading to hearing loss.
Hypertension and Hearing Loss
Stress and hypertension go hand in hand. This high blood pressure is the most likely cause of stress-related hearing loss and tinnitus. If you have hearing loss caused by stress or hypertension, you may:
- Feel that your ears are blocked or full
- Experience muffled sounds
- Have pain or pressure in the ear
- Experience hearing loss or tinnitus in one or both ears
- Hear tinnitus
Stress and Tinnitus
Stress can also lead to tinnitus. This is a buzzing, ringing, whistling, or whooshing sound that’s all in your head. The noise isn’t coming from an external stimulus, and it can be unsettling, annoying, or stressful.
Just like hearing loss, tinnitus can be caused by damage to the cells in the inner ear. If you already have tinnitus, stress can also trigger a tinnitus flare-up, along with greater symptoms and more discomfort. Tinnitus caused by stress can also be a pulsating tinnitus. This is tinnitus that has a rhythmic quality as the tinnitus pulses to the beat or your heart. It can be a sign of poor circulation and high stress.
Find Ways to Reduce Stress
If you experience a lot of stress, or you’re worried that stress has led to hearing loss or tinnitus, the first step is to reduce your stress levels and prevent further damage.
If you’re stressed right now, take a big breath. Take a few. Allow your body to relax. Breathing deeply will signal to your body that it’s time to stop stressing. It can slow your heartbeat, relax your muscles, reduce blood pressure, and decrease metabolism. If you ever notice that you’re stressed, take a few minutes to breathe, or walk away from the stressful situation for a few minutes.
Make Time for Fun
Doing things you love can lower your stress. Whether you enjoy going for a swim, dancing, listening to music, or enjoying a bubble bath, make time for things that bring you joy. It can signal to your body that it’s time to let go of all that stress and just relax.
Treat Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
While stress can lead to hearing loss, hearing loss can also cause more stress! If you’re experiencing tinnitus, or you’re straining to hear, naturally your stress levels will rise. Treating hearing loss and tinnitus can reduce stress and help bring more calm into your life.
Schedule a Hearing Test!
After you’ve taken a few deep breaths and let go of some stress, contact us to schedule a hearing test and consultation. Hearing aids can help you hear all the sounds you’ve been missing. They can also help you manage tinnitus. with hearing aids you’ll be able to enjoy conversations with loved ones, focus on tasks, and sleep better at night. Visit us today and find the hearing aids that will change your life.