These past few months have brought about unprecedented levels of stress for millions of Americans. Figuring out the right coping mechanism is crucial, as long-term stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including hearing loss.
How Stress Affects Hearing
Everyone experiences stress. Typically, after a stressful situation, your body sends out a signal that it is safe to return to normal. With long-term stress, this signal is never sent, and your body remains in a heightened state. This can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions can restrict blood flow throughout the body.
The hair cells within your inner ear that are responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical impulses, which are then sent on to your brain to be interpreted as sound, require good circulation to keep working. When deprived of enough blood, the hair cells can become damaged or die. This leads to permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
In addition to hearing loss, poor circulation can also cause tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus, a less common type of tinnitus, is characterized by a rhythmic ear noise that pulses in time with your heartbeat. High blood pressure is a common cause of this condition, which can occur as a result of long-term stress.
Stress can also lead to a tinnitus flareup, making it harder for you to follow through with your normal habituation or management techniques.
Coping with Stress
The best way to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus caused by stress is to work at reducing the amount of stress in your life. Below are some tips for reducing stress according to the American Psychological Association:
- Try to eliminate the stressor
- Cultivate social support
- Seek good nutrition
- Relax your muscles
- Protect your sleep
- Get physical exercise
- Go into nature
- Seek out pleasurable activities
- Reframe your thinking
- Seek professional help
To learn more about keeping your ears safe from the dangers of long-term stress or to schedule an appointment with an experienced hearing professional, contact the experts at San Francisco Audiology today.