Posted on Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Relationship Between Hearing Loss and Stress

Guy holding his head

The fight or flight response to stressors in the environment played an essential role in the survival of our species. It increased chemicals in the body that allowed for greater speed and strength. But that once necessary reaction to immediate stress is not as beneficial for a modern society that may produce stressors on a daily or hourly basis. This exposure to chronic stress can play a big part in the deterioration of the body. And, as it turns out, chronic stress can actually cause or worsen hearing loss and tinnitus.

According to The Free Medical Dictionary, chronic stress is "A state of prolonged tension from internal or external stressors, which may cause various physical manifestations."

So how does chronic stress increase or cause hearing loss or tinnitus? Basically, it's all about circulation. Inside the ear are tiny little hairs that depend on the flow of blood and the delivery of nutrients for survival. These little hair cells can be slowly destroyed with a lack of nutrients or immediately destroyed when blood ceases to flow within the ears. Chronic stress plays a big part in the slowing or stopping of blood flow. The overproduction of adrenaline can reduce blood circulation in the inner ear or even stop it completely. Not only can this cause hearing loss over time, it can cause sudden hearing loss when circulations stops completely. When hearing loss is a sudden or instant reaction to stress it's often reversible with a reduction in stress, a return of blood flow, and a rehabilitation of the hair cells through sound stimulus. If you're not sure if you have hearing loss due to chronic stress, below is a list of symptoms to be on the look out for.


  • The ears feel stuffed, blocked, or stopped up
  • Loss of ability to hear specific frequencies
  • Pressure or pain in the ear
  • Loss of hearing in one or both ears
  • Sounds are muted or seem distant
  • These symptoms might sound obvious, but hearing loss is often subtle. That's because you're not always aware of what you're not hearing, and that can be compounded by the fact that you are stressed and may not be paying close attention to your hearing. Don't stress out about it though. There's any easy way to tell if chronic stress is harming your hearing and it's a good practice that can have a positive impact on your whole body--schedule an appointment with your hearing health provider. Don't have a hearing health provider? No worries, we've got you covered! Click Here to be connected with a hearing health provider in your area. Still stressed? Well, below are some tips on how to cope with stress and a video in case you're too stressed to keep reading.

    How to Cope With Stress

    The first thing to do when you're feeling stressed is simple and free and a physiological given-- take a deep breath. When you take a deep breath you instigate the relaxation response. According to the The American Institute of Stress the relaxation response instigated by deep breathing can decrease metabolism, lower your heartbeat, relax muscles, decrease blood pressure, and increase levels of nitric oxide.

    Take time to be positive. In fact, you might want to start now with a visit to the Positivity Blog where they've outlined 33 Ways to Deal with Stress The list includes, "Keeping your to do list very short, Spending 80% of your time working on a solution, and Disconnecting on the weekend." All good ideas. Actually, the whole list is good, so click on the link and read it!

    Music Therapy. There is a lot of evidence that music therapy can be beneficial for us physically and can help reduce stress. But you don't need a study to tell you music soothes the mind and the human spirit. Help.org. explains twelve ways in which we can use music to reduce stress.

    Guided Meditations. Guided meditations are a great way to reduce stress not just in the moment, but over a lifetime. They help decrease obsessive thoughts and increase a restful and peaceful natural state. And the wonderful people at UCLA have a series of Free guided mediations in English and Spanish. Just knowing there are so many good people out there to help has made me feel less stressed.

    Still need a few tips on how to deal with stress? The BBC video below can help!

    Sure stress can cause hearing loss, but the opposite is also true. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be a real stressor in and of themselves. If you're having problems with your hearing and tinnitus, see your hearing health professional so she or he can help you work out a plan of attack. Today's hearing aids are not only better at helping people to hear in many different situations and environments, they also have a lot of tinnitus features that can ease that condition and thereby help you reduce stress.

    Don't have a hearing health provider? Click Here to be connected with a hearing health provider in your area.

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