Treating Ringing in the Ears Due to Stress? Explanation + 6 Tips

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Ringing in the ear

A constant murmur, a buzzing sound or a whistling sound in your ears can be very annoying.

If tinnitus persists, it can make your life hell. Stress is a known cause of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

If you don’t know whether tinnitus is caused by stress, it will of course be very difficult to stop this annoying problem.

This article will help you treat and prevent this annoying problem.

Purpose of this article: We investigate what causes tinnitus and why stress plays a very negative role in it. You get 6 useful tips to better deal with tinnitus and to prevent it.

Can stress cause ringing in the ears and tinnitus?

Ringing in the ears or tinnitus: about 10 to 15% of the Dutch population suffers from it.

If we make a calculation, this means that more than a million people suffer from whistling, buzzing, hissing or humming in one or both ears.


What exactly can you hear in tinnitus?

  • High or low beeps
  • A constant murmur or hiss like a running stream or wind through the trees
  • The sound of vibrating electrical wires
  •  Ringing tone
  • An incessant hum

Causes of tinnitus

Whatever form tinnitus takes or whatever the cause, it is certain that these complaints worsen or even arise due to stress and tension.


How is tinnitus caused by stress?

According to American research from 2020, there is a close connection between tinnitus and anxiety.

Another study  – which by the way was called ‘Tinnitus: the sound of stress’ showed that symptoms associated with tinnitus are mainly caused by emotional stress.

According to scientists, one of the reasons for this is that tinnitus can act as an alarm signal in stressful situations.

Many studies have been conducted into how stress is caused by tinnitus.

And although it is not always clear whether stress causes tinnitus or only contributes to tinnitus, it is worth noting that tinnitus mainly starts at times of stress or after a period of stress.

For some people, tinnitus often acts as a ‘stress barometer’‘.

You may have already noticed that the more often you hear sounds in your ear, the more stress you get from this.

Not so strange at all: a constant ringing in one or both ears can indeed be very stressful.

Stress causes stress hormones to be released in your body. If you are in acute danger, these stress hormones help you survive.

But your body also sees chronic stress as a danger. Stress hormones are always present in large quantities and these can cause considerable damage to your body.

Stress hormones can affect your immune system, but also various body parts and organs.


Distortion of electrical signals

There are tiny hairs in your inner ear that move with the pressure of sound waves.

This transmits electrical signals to your brain via your auditory nerve. They interpret these signals as sounds.

If you have a sound trauma, these hairs can be damaged. You can think of this as a field full of grain. When a storm hits, the grains can no longer bend back, but they break down, your hearing is then permanently damaged.

When the hairs in your inner ear are deformed or broken off, they send random electrical impulses to your brain causing you to constantly hear ‘something’. Tinnitus is also seen as a phantom sound. Its presence in the body cannot be directly demonstrated.

If you have a hearing impairment in a certain pitch, it may be that tinnitus fills this pitch.

Even if your auditory nerve is damaged, these electrical signals can distort. According to a study published in the  US National Library of Medicine , too much cortisol can indeed cause something wrong with your nervous system, including nerves in your ear.


Chronic ear infections

In fact, any part of your ear can become inflamed: your middle ear, your ear canal and your inner ear.

Middle ear infections are most common in children, while ear canal infections are common in adults.

In inner ear infections, a distinction is made between the part that is responsible for balance and the part that has to do with your hearing.

Because stress hormones can affect your immune system, you are much more susceptible to all kinds of ear infections.


High blood pressure due to stress?

High blood pressure due to stress can also contribute to tinnitus.

If you have high blood pressure, your blood flows through your veins much faster than normal.

At some point and if you are sensitive to sounds you can really hear that the blood pressure in your auditory system is rising. What you then hear is actually the rushing of your blood through your veins.

This is something that could be checked in the hospital. This way you can be sure that it is not hearing damage.

Earlier I taught you how stress can cause high blood pressure. Because of the speed at which the blood flows, you can also get headaches due to stress in addition to tinnitus .


What are the effects of tinnitus due to stress?

Ringing in the ears due to stress can have a pretty negative impact on your life.

The video below shows how badly tinnitus can affect your life.


#1: Social Isolation

You may have noticed yourself that you prefer to stay at home instead of going out with your friends.

All that noise only exacerbates that constant ringing in your ears, and besides, you often just don’t hear what people are saying in such a noisy environment.


#2: Concentration Problems

You may feel tired all day because you haven’t been able to get to sleep because of that incessant buzzing in your ears.


#3: Short fuse

And then there’s the fact that you often have a short fuse because ringing in your ears never seems to be quiet in your head.

Tinnitus can have a devastating impact on your daily life.

Research into tinnitus due to stress has shown that as many as 63% of people suffer from this on a daily basis.


#4: Problems with people close to you

Ringing in the ears due to stress can really make you suffer. But also for the people around you it is often not easy to deal with this.

For example: At work it was quite busy: you had deadlines to meet, that buzzing in your ear made it difficult to concentrate and all the back and forth from your colleagues made you even more stressed. You come home and after a day full of noises you want to enjoy the silence.

When you get home, your partner plays on the Playstation and there is no silence at all. You ask them to turn down the sound a bit. You see your partner look annoyed at you and hear him/her think, ‘There you go nagging again…’.


Treating tinnitus due to stress? 6 tips

What can you do against tinnitus and ringing in the ears due to stress? My main tips are:


Tip 1: Find enough distraction

The more you focus on that annoying ringing in your ears, the more clearly you hear it.

You’re concentrating so hard to ignore that buzzing in your ear, but it just makes it worse.

Don’t let tinnitus stop you from doing the things you enjoy.

I understand that the temptation to do so is very great. Ringing in the ears due to stress can have such a negative impact on your life that you no longer feel like doing anything.

You achieve the best results when you use multiple senses. This is called multi-sensory distraction. The more senses you use at the same time, the more easily you are distracted.

Exercising outside, walking or simply working in the garden with your favorite playlist in the background is also a great distraction.

Ever experienced the relaxing power of painting? With soft music in the background you can become so absorbed in making a painting that you no longer think about that annoying whistling sound in your ears.

There is no right or wrong way to do this and the possibilities are endless. As a rule of thumb, do what you enjoy and what distracts you the most.


Tip 2: Relaxation and meditation

You may find yourself that that constant ringing in your ears gets worse during stressful times.

In addition, it can also be very frightening if you regularly suffer from tinnitus.

By relaxing more often you will feel less stressed and therefore suffer less from tinnitus due to stress.

Very efficient ways to relax are yoga, tai-chi and meditation.

You can follow these classes in your area, but you can also just as well get started with them yourself.

By using a few simple techniques on a regular basis, you can improve the quality of your life and make a real difference to living with stress-related tinnitus.

It does take some practice to develop good relaxation techniques. And what helps one day may not work the next. So don’t give up right away if these techniques don’t seem to help you at first.

Relaxing while under stress is not easy at all, but as you become more proficient in this, it can help to combat tinnitus caused by stress.


Tip 3: Keep track of small wins

Have you ever noticed that after an injury you feel compelled to check every now and then to see if it still hurts?

Most people tend to focus on pain and discomfort. But we don’t just do this with physical pain.

Sometimes we also torment ourselves by tearing open emotional wounds or by being too preoccupied with physical problems such as ringing in the ears.

If you do that often, you get stuck in a circle of negative thinking. You focus on the negative and pay too little attention to the moments when your tinnitus was not so bad.

You can counteract these negative thoughts by keeping a journal of small victories.

Have you been looking for a distraction and have you noticed that you did indeed get rid of that persistent hum in your ear for a while, then write this down.

Have you gone out with friends and have you actually not had that much trouble with that whistling sound in your ears, write it in your diary.

Before you go to sleep, write down every small victory. By focusing on small wins, your mindset will improve and your stress level will also decrease.


Tip 4: Alternative treatments

There are several alternative treatments that would have a positive effect on tinnitus.

The means most often used for this are certain nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and hypnosis.

However, none of these treatment options are backed by science.

Many people are also convinced that Ginkgo biloba – dried leaves of the Japanese Ginkgo tree – can help with the circulation of various organs and can also help with tinnitus.

Although various studies have shown that Ginkgo biloba does indeed have a positive effect on the blood flow in the body and the brain, there is no conclusive evidence that it is also effective in tinnitus due to stress.


Tip 5: Antidepressants and Anxiety Inhibitors

For stress-related tinnitus, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce stress to make the symptoms of tinnitus more bearable.

According to a study  published in the National Library of Medicine,  alprazolam may indeed be effective for tinnitus. However, there is a big ‘but’ to this.

Like all benzodiazepines, this anti-anxiety drug can cause a lot of unpleasant side effects.

Treating stress with drugs is never a good idea, because these can seriously damage your health in the long term.

But how do you deal with stress effectively?


Tip 6: Address the cause of your ringing in the ears

Ringing in the ears due to stress is one of the many symptoms of stress as you have read.

If you now conclude that your tinnitus is due to stress, this does not mean that you have to live with it for the rest of your life.

By changing your way of life in the right way, you can permanently relieve yourself of stress symptoms and cure tinnitus. Changing your thoughts about stress is especially important.

With the help of ‘ The Stress-Free Secret ‘ you can get out of the stress circle. In this you will learn, among other things:

  • Why you are more vulnerable to stress than others
  • What you need to do to get out of the vicious circle of chronic stress as soon as possible and get more rest
  • A long-term strategy to prevent you from falling back into old patterns and to be happy with yourself and your life again

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