More than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. In addition to hearing a ringing, buzzing or clicking in the ear, those with tinnitus often have additional symptoms, including an increase in stress. Understanding the relationship between stress and tinnitus can help you seek treatment and find relief.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a ringing in the ear even though no sound is present. A symptom of a number of conditions and medications, rather than a disease itself, determining the exact cause of tinnitus can be challenging.
For most, tinnitus is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear from exposure to loud noises. These hairs are responsible for sending electrical impulses through the auditory nerve to the brain. When the hairs become damaged, they begin to “leak,” sending out incorrect signals.
What Is Stress?
Stress is your body’s reaction when your demands do not match your biological, phycological or social resources. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones to help with your fight or flight response. The stress hormones can help you run faster or fight harder. While these hormones are helpful in the short term, chronic stress is associated with a number of adverse events.
Signs of stress include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disrupted sleep
- Feeling tense
- Quickened heartbeat
According to cognitive-behavioral therapists, there are a number of factors that can contribute to stress, including your thoughts, behaviors, and current situation. Taking a look at how the factors that contribute to your stress are linked can help you determine why you continue to experience stress and how you can change the way you think to reduce it.
The cognitive-behavior model suggests that how you feel is influenced by what you think and what you do, rather than solely what happened to cause your stress.
The Relationship Between Stress and Tinnitus
For many people with tinnitus, the ringing is one of the biggest stresses in their life. Constantly worrying about bothersome tinnitus and how it will affect you can lead to stress, making stress a common side effect of tinnitus. While we may not know if stress causes tinnitus or tinnitus causes stress, chances are they are connected via a viscous circle, each exacerbating the other.
Managing Tinnitus Stress
You can use the cognitive-behavioral model to help reduce your stress from tinnitus by changing your thoughts and behaviors.
When you experience an episode of tinnitus, pay attention to your thoughts and determine if they are helpful or not. Identify what situations intensify your tinnitus and think about what went through your mind while that was happening. Then evaluate those thoughts for how helpful they were.
You can then work on changing your behaviors to help manage your tinnitus by focusing your attention on other activities. This can include:
- Making time for yourself
- Spending time on activities you enjoy
- Talking to supportive people
Now is the time to finally do something about your tinnitus. Contact the experts at Chelmsford Hearing Group today.