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Can stress cause tinnitus?

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Tinnitus is the medical term used to describe the sensation of ringing in the ears. Sometimes this can be caused by medical conditions such as wax in the ear or infection. Tinnitus can also be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, for example at a rock concert, or when suffering from a stuffy head cold.

However, did you know that tinnitus can also be caused by anxiety and stress?

Tinnitus and Stress

There are a number of ways in which stress and anxiety can cause or exacerbate tinnitus.

Ringing ears frequently occur during panic attacks or moments of extreme stress. Generally, this kind of tinnitus fades slowly as the panic subsides. It is thought that the tinnitus may be caused by an alteration to the blood flow to the head or as a result of an alteration in pressure within the skull.

Anxiety and stress can cause hypersensitivity where the sufferer becomes acutely aware of every feeling, sensation or pain within their body. This can exacerbate your perception of ringing in your ears.

In addition, feelings of stress can make it very difficult to ignore something that causes you anxiety. Therefore, if you already have a very mild tinnitus that is almost imperceptible under normal circumstances, anxiety and stress can make you oversensitive to it, blowing it up into a much larger problem.

Catch 22 Situation

It is thought by some researchers and doctors that tinnitus can actually cause stress, creating a vicious circle. It’s possible that someone who suffers from mild tinnitus and who is prone to stress or anxiety exists in a state of high alert. This can raise blood pressure, thus making the tinnitus more noticeable.

The tinnitus can cause the sufferer problems sleeping and can interfere with their enjoyment of daily life, further exacerbating their feelings of anxiety and increasing stress.

Treating stress-related tinnitus

In order to relieve stress-related tinnitus, it is first necessary to address the cause of your anxiety. Sometimes, counselling can be very effective, and you might also want to consider stress-relievers such as meditation, aromatherapy and massage treatments. Hypnotherapy can also be very effective in relieving stress and combating the tinnitus related to it.

If you suffer from stress, which in turn triggers or exacerbates your tinnitus, have a chat with your doctor or an audiologist. It may be that a course of counselling sessions designed to relieve your feelings of anxiety may also be effective in getting rid of your tinnitus.

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