How High Stress Can Lead to Hearing Loss

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Every year, National Stress Awareness Month is acknowledged in April. Its purpose is to increase public awareness towards the dangers of stress. A common challenge for most Americans is stress relief, and many were surprised to hear medical experts mention another adverse effect of being overly stressed; hearing loss.

What is stress?

Believe it or not, stress is a key part of our species survival and the response to environmental stressors. It is also known as the “fight or flight” response. Stress tells you when to run from a dangerous situation and gives the body an extra shot of adrenaline. Stress becomes unhealthy when the body experiences it on a daily basis. Consistent worry over a job, children, finances, as well as social issues, can lead to chronic stress, which can have a detrimental effect on the entire body.

Long term stress is harmful to your health according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

When the body undergoes stress, adrenaline increases, which makes breathing faster, diverting oxygen to the muscles so that the body can take action. In long term cases, this hormone suppresses the body’s immune system, digestive processes, as well as sleep and reproductive systems. Someone who is constantly stressed has a body that doesn’t receive clear signals to return to a normal state, similar to when stress is acute or traumatic. Eventually, this leads to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses.

How can chronic stress cause hearing loss?

Anything that restricts the body’s circulation (ex. heart disease, smoking, diabetes, etc.) is going to impact hearing in a negative way. This happens primarily because the small sensory hairs of the inner ear are dependent on good circulation to perform the task of translating noise from the outer ears to the brain.

The inner ear sensors are responsible for translating certain frequencies, and when they are damaged or die, the message’s ability to send it also affected. The type of hearing loss that occurs as a result to damaged sensory hair cells is called “sensorineural hearing loss”.

How can stress be reduced?

Reducing the amount of stress in everyday life can protect hearing from loss due to poor circulation. Here are five tips for reducing stress according to the American Psychological Association:

  • Give yourself a break. Even taking 20 minutes away from the cause of stress can give a person more perspective and lessen feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Exercise the body. Just 20 minutes every day provides the body and mind with health benefits.
  • Smile and laugh more. Moving the facial muscles involved in smiling eases tension and sends a corresponding signal of happiness to the brain.
  • Social support. Talking to someone who understands stress and anxiety can provide positive feedback and help lessen negative feelings.
  • Meditation is exercise for the mind and can help relax and focus both.

Who can help?

Visit our website to schedule an appointment today and find out how to improve your hearing, reduce stress, and live a healthier, more fulfilling life.