The world is full of stress these days, and it’s normal for everyone to feel the impact of stress from time to time. Although most of us would be happy to live without this kind of pressure, stress actually plays a significant role in most species’ survival, including humans.
When we are faced with an intense situation, stress gives us the energy to escape or increases our adrenaline to help us defend ourselves. This is typically called the “fight or flight” response, and it’s as vital for human survival today as it was for early humans.
Stress and Your Hearing Health: What You Should Know
Moderate amounts of stress can be beneficial. For example – the kind of short-term buzz we get from a sudden burst of hormones, this can help people perform tasks more efficiently. According to psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Tan, it’s our body telling us what we need to do.
Stress gets dangerous when it becomes continuous. When you are dealing with chronic stress, the body doesn’t receive a clear signal to return to normal like it does when the stress is short-lived. High-pressure workdays, long commutes, raising kids, not enough sleep or exercise, trying to make ends meet. These accumulated stresses of everyday life can sometimes affect a person’s health in irreversible ways — from early aging to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
When stress gets out of hand and interferes with our health, it can also interfere with our hearing.
Can Stress Cause Hearing Loss?
Your hearing can be negatively affected by any condition that restricts circulation, such as heart disease, diabetes, or smoking. This is because the tiny sensory hairs in the inner ear need good circulation to translate noise your outer ears capture into electrical impulses the brain can understand.
When any of these inner ear sensors is damaged or dies, it affects the ability to transmit specific frequencies. The loss of hearing caused by damage to these sensory hair cells is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Hypertension and Hearing Loss
There is also a link between hypertension and hearing loss. Hypertension is caused by high blood pressure, which often accompanies stress. It can have severe implications for hearing as well. The blood vessels of your body are damaged by high blood pressure.
A person’s entire body is affected by this damage, including their ears. When your ears suffer from blood vessel damage, your hearing could be compromised. Chronic stress in the form of hypertension often leads to hearing loss and tinnitus. Symptoms can include:
- Blocked feeling in the ears
- Pain in the ears
- Complete loss of hearing in one or both ears
Stress and Tinnitus
In many studies, tinnitus has been linked to stress. Tinnitus is described as a ringing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears frequently caused by exposure to loud noise or certain medicines. Tinnitus can come and go, but it tends to be more acute when people are under stress.
Research indicates that up to 45% of individuals with chronic tinnitus present with anxiety symptoms, and that tinnitus often worsens after an individual experiences stress.
Tips on Managing & Reducing Stress in Your Life
If you are experiencing stress in your life, taking steps to manage your stress levels can have many health benefits, including keeping your ears healthy. Here are some ways to get started:
- Get regular physical activity, just 20 minutes a day provides health benefits for your body and mind
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage
- Spend time with family and friends
- Set aside time for hobbies, such as pickleball, art, or reading.
Be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol, and the use of illegal substances.
Contact Us Today! If you’d like to book an appointment with our hearing care professionals, we’d be happy to help. Book your appointment with the team at Regional Hearing & Balance by calling us at 208-497-3596. Alternatively, click here to book a complimentary hearing assessment.