We live in an era of stress and are constantly affected by it. Problems at work, anxiety about children’s safety and health, increased emotional and mental stress, city noise, and bustle are all an integral part of modern life.
Long-term exposure to stress harms the entire body. Unfortunately, a person thinks about it only when serious health problems arise. What about hearing health?
Does stress affect your ability to hear?
How are stress and hearing loss related? After all, at first glance, these are completely independent processes. But this is not entirely true and here’s why.
Stress is the response of the human body to overexertion, negative emotions, or external stimuli. During stress, the body produces the hormone adrenaline, which redistributes blood, directing most of it to vital organs and muscles.
A rapid heartbeat, raised blood pressure, and increased muscle strength are manifestations of an increased concentration of adrenaline in the blood. However, with all this, there is a depletion of other organs and systems, including the organs of hearing.
The hair cells located in the inner ear (cochlear cavity) are the receptor organs of the ear. They perceive a sound signal that is transmitted through the eardrum and the ossicular system.
The hair cells convert sound into a nerve impulse and transmit it to the auditory centers of the brain through nerve fibers. The developing circulatory insufficiency (against the background of high content of adrenaline in the blood) negatively affects the activity of hair cells, since they are extremely sensitive to oxygen starvation. Chronic circulatory disorders lead to receptor death and, consequently, to the development of sensorineural hearing loss. Thus, stress affects hearing.
Now it becomes clear why some diseases and bad habits can also cause the development of hearing loss:
Smoking. Nicotine has a toxic effect on the body, disrupting blood circulation. This in combination has a very negative effect on the functioning of the inner ear. Studies have shown that people who smoke up to 10 cigarettes a day increase the risk of developing hearing loss by 1.4 times. For those who smoke 10 to 20 cigarettes daily, this figure rises to 1.7
Heart diseases. Various disorders of the cardiovascular system leading to impaired blood circulation, reducing its flow to the hearing organs. Therefore, some problems may lead to others. For example, hypertension and hearing loss. High blood pressure is often accompanied by pulsating tinnitus (called pulsatile tinnitus)
Diabetes. The disease can lead to serious vascular complications. They are destroyed. And as I wrote above, the deterioration in blood circulation leads to hearing problems
The loss of hearing due to uncontrolled diabetes often occurs gradually, almost imperceptibly, and is most often irreversible.
Unfortunately, heart disease, diabetes, and smoking are very common in humans. Therefore, we can safely say that a huge number of people are at risk. On the background of serious health problems, they are likely to develop hearing loss.
Can chronic stress cause Tinnitus?
Tinnitus consists of sounds of varying intensity: high-pitched whistles, squeals, hums, hiss, claps, creaks in the ear, etc. In this case, sensations arise in the absence of an external sound source.
Unpleasant symptoms are temporary and sometimes permanent. They are especially hard to bear against the background of complete silence, leading to increased stress and the appearance of neuroses. Here are the main reasons for the development of the problem:
Inflammatory processes (otitis media, sinusitis)
Impact on the human body of toxins present in medicinal products
Disorders of the nervous system
You should pay particular attention to chronic stress. Most people are affected by it. It should be noted that the mechanism of tinnitus occurrence is similar to sensorineural hearing loss. It occurs due to constant stress. The circulation of the hearing organs is impaired, which can easily lead to the appearance of tinnitus. Various American and European studies support this information.
An important feature of stress and tinnitus is that the level of anxiety increases due to persistent tinnitus. This, in turn, increases the stressful state, which also increases the tinnitus. Thus, stress and tinnitus are inextricably linked, and an increase in one entails an increase in the other.
Therefore, it is very important to monitor your stress level and try to reduce it to a minimum, so as not to get new health problems.
How can you prevent stress-related hearing loss?
Like any disorder, hearing loss is better prevented than treated. As I wrote above, chronic stress and hearing loss are related to each other. To preserve your hearing, you need to be able to get out of difficult emotional states and avoid chronic stress.
Our hearing care professional, Dr. Stella Fulman has prepared some simple tips that are sure to help you reduce your chances of developing sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus.
The arts are excellent stress distractions. The person focuses not on obsessive tinnitus and problems, but on what gives pleasure. How can you distract yourself?
Write down the flow of thoughts
Listen to music
There are a lot of options. Therefore, it is necessary to individually select the most effective way.
This works in two ways: muscle relaxation relieves spasm. At the same time, according to the feedback system, it gives a signal to relax the nervous system. At the end of physical relaxation, you should not be busy with business! Lie down or sit back and think about the good for a few more minutes.
Have a hobby
Pay more attention to your hobbies. Favorite activities not only distract from emotional situations but also perfectly cheer you up. It all significantly reduces stress levels.
Try to walk more often in the fresh air, especially in parks. If possible, be sure to take a trip. New cities, people, and experiences are great at reducing stress levels in the body.
Chat with loved ones
Close people like no one else can understand and support you in difficult times. So tell them your experiences. This will relieve the tension a little and you can look at the problem from a different angle.
Meditation for hearing loss
Meditation techniques will allow your mind and body to relax. You can forget about stress and listen to your body. Pay particular attention to correct breathing during meditation. Inhale through your nose, imagining that your lungs are filled with air like a bottle, exhale slowly through your mouth. This cycle should be repeated for 3-5 minutes, after which relaxation usually comes, and thoughts clear up.
There are not so few opportunities for relaxation around us. Regular relaxation exercises have proven to be very effective. They significantly reduce stress levels, and therefore, preserve hearing.
Remember, hearing loss and tinnitus significantly reduce the quality of life and, in some cases, can lead to depression and emotional breakdowns. To prevent this, you should contact a specialist for help on time.
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]