By: Dr. Nimet Adam
Yes. Stress and hypertension are also linked to hearing loss. Stress is a part of life. It’s our body’s way of dealing with difficult situations by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream that give you a burst of energy or strength. The fight or flight response was crucial to our survival when we had to run for our lives, or hunt to survive. On that note, even when sleeping, our ears never sleep because, we need good hearing to protect ourselves. Hearing alarms, a knock on the door, a phone ringing in the middle of the night, are all ways that we protect ourselves.
How Can Stress Cause Hearing Loss?
The hair cells in the inner ear depend on a steady stream of blood supply to receive oxygen and other nutrients. However, when stress disturbs blood circulation throughout the body an overproduction of adrenaline reduces blood flow to the ears, affecting hearing. Without a constant blood flow, the ear cells are damaged or even destroyed. It can even cause immediate hearing loss if you become so stressed that blood flow to the ears is stopped entirely.
Hypertension, or the high blood pressure that invariably comes along with stress, has severe hearing repercussions, especially among those over 65. Chronic stress in the form of hypertension often leads to hearing loss and tinnitus. It can gradually worsen hearing, lead to sudden hearing loss, and cause tinnitus. The symptoms of hearing loss due to stress include a stuffed or blocked feeling in the ears, pressure or pain in the ear, and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears.
Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Many studies have linked stress to tinnitus, both as a cause and as a symptom. Tinnitus is the experience of hearing noises without an external stimulus, such as ringing, buzzing, or whistling, and these can be unsettling, annoying, or even painful. Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss. A study by S. Herbert found that approximately 53% of those with tinnitus said their symptoms started at a stressful period of their lives or got significantly worse at a stressful time. It’s a vicious cycle, since stress causes tinnitus, which can cause more stress, which then causes even more tinnitus.
What Should I do Next?
Schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. In some cases, sudden hearing loss can be restored but only if it is identified within days. Tinnitus treatment is most effective when treated early. If the hearing loss is determined to be permanent, treatment is essential. Living with hearing loss creates additional stress. It puts a strain on relationships and can begin to affect work, family and social interactions. Hearing in noise can become difficult and stressful, forcing people to avoid social situations. This in turn can lead to social isolation and reduced physical activity which impacts overall health. Not hearing alerting signals and important information can also put you at risk and compromise your safety. Most patients also report that before treatment, they had to work hard to hear. After treatment, their stress was reduced because the hearing aids did the work instead of them. Don’t wait to have your hearing checked and to do something about it! It could change your life!
Hearing Partners of South Florida
Delray Beach – 561-638-6530 Boynton Beach – 561-736-6002 Jupiter – 561-888-7260