Can Stress Affect Your Hearing?

Stress is the feeling of emotional or physical tension.  How you respond to stress is known as “fight or flight.”  Given the situation, stress equips the body by triggering the release of hormones that will determine the response of either fight or flee.  As all of us can relate to having some type of stress in our lives, but living with chronic stress will cause havoc on our health including our hearing.

The initial notion of stress doesn’t include the impact of what it does to hearing but just about anything that causes restriction to the circulatory system such as heart disease, smoking, diabetes, and you guessed it, stress can all negatively affect hearing. The responses to stress can cause overproduction of adrenaline causing a disruption in circulation of blood flow to all parts of the body.  

When it comes to our hearing, those fragile hair cells located in the inner ear rely on constant oxygen and nutrients.  Without the constant blood flow, those fragile hair cells become damaged and affect hearing ability. With daily chronic stress, blood flow can completely halt circulation to the ear potentially leading to either sudden or gradual impairment or tinnitus.

With stress, high blood pressure comes with the territory.  When your blood pressure is elevated, blood vessels throughout the body are damaged. Not particularly around one area of the body, the whole body is affected. Damaged blood vessels increase the probability of impaired hearing tinnitus.

Causing a vicious cycle. As tinnitus or impaired hearing can add stress to our lives, the risk of hypertension and other diseases arises.

With April being Stress Awareness month, the first step is to reduce the amount of stress to prevent any further damage that has already been done to your hearing or body. The American Psychological Association provided helpful tips on how to manage your stress:

  • Take a Break
    • Learn to recognize when stress has become unbearable and learn to walk away for at least 20 minutes. This will allow you to reflect and confront the circumstance with a clear head attitude and new approach in how to respond.
  • Exercise
    • The remarkable difference in how you respond to stress when you add 20 minutes of exercise to your daily routine will improve your mental and physical state of mind.
  • Don’t Forget to Ask for Help
    • To internalize your feelings only elevates the probability of stress. Confiding in your family and friends will provide the support that one needs when facing stressful circumstances. If the stress is still overwhelmed, be open to seeking medical help.
  • Good Nutrition      
    • A lot of how one feels derives from what we consume in our daily lives. Good nutrition leads to a healthier gut allowing the right nutrients to be absorbed and carried throughout your body. Improving your overall mood which in return will help you deal with daily stressors more effectively.
  • Get a Good Night’s Rest
    • Stress affects how we take on the day. When your sleep is deprived, your mood and how you respond to stress can only make matters worse.
  • Be sure to have some “me-time”
    • Add more time for yourself. Doing what you love and what makes you laugh levitates daily stressors and will be beneficial for your mental and physical health.  The saying is true that laughter is the best medicine.

We all know stress happens. Sometimes it is unavoidable, and it can be unbearable. Give yourself permission to live a healthier, happier, better life.

If you find that your hearing is a cause of your daily stress, McCollum Hearing Center is here and ready to accompany you on your hearing healthcare journey.