Can Stress Cause Tinnitus?

Did you know that high stress and anxiety can cause ringing in your ears? This ringing does not come from an external source, and the condition is commonly known as tinnitus. It affects around 5 to 43% of the population worldwide. Various factors can cause it, but stress also plays a significant role in it. 

So, let’s dive deep into this article to learn more about ‘Can stress cause tinnitus?’

Tinnitus and Stress Anxiety

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds without any external source or stimuli. It is normally heard as whistling, clicking, ringing, buzzing or whooshing.  Tinnitus is an auditory disorder caused by ear diseases, loud noises that damage the auditory system, injuries, or it can occur due to age-related hearing loss. 

Research shows a significant link between tinnitus and stress. Long exposure to stress factors or hormones can affect the auditory system, causing tinnitus and worsening pre-existing tinnitus.

So, read below to learn the answer to the question, ‘Can stress cause tinnitus?’

How Can Stress Cause Tinnitus?

Stress causes tinnitus by releasing stress hormones and neurotransmitters that alter pathways involved in the habituation process. This process prevents the overstimulation of the auditory system, which can lead to tinnitus. Below are some reasons why your ears ring in extreme stress or anxiety. 

High Blood Pressure

Stress and anxiety are known triggers of high blood pressure. During extreme stress levels, your body releases stress hormones that increase blood pressure, further promoting activity in your auditory system. 

The altered blood pressure also damages the inner ear through impaired circulation, leading to tinnitus. 

Inflammation

Extreme stress levels enhance inflammation by releasing inflammatory markers or cytokines such as IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-10. These cytokines alter synaptic transmission by increasing excitatory neurotransmitters and decreasing inhibitory neurotransmitters. As a result, neuroplasticity occurs, which leads to tinnitus or prolongs its effects. 

Increase Muscle Tension

Increased stress or anxiety can tense up your cervical muscles, overstimulating your cochlear nerve, which regulates your hearing. Your brain causes tinnitus to compensate for this overstimulation.

People with anxiety usually clench their teeth and jaw, putting pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Consistent clenching damages the articular disk, overloading the temporomandibular joint and tensing the muscles, which leads to tinnitus.

Changes in Hormones

Stress causes an increased level of hormones like cortisol, which promotes the sympathetic nervous system and further contributes to the development of tinnitus. Stress or anxiety also causes increased levels of epinephrine or serotonin, which alter the auditory system and result in tinnitus. 

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation occurs due to distress or anxiety, and it may lead to a lot of chronic conditions. But, can stress cause tinnitus if you are sleep-deprived? The answer is tinnitus has been strongly associated with sleep apnea or sleep fragmentation. 

According to research, the psychological model explains the cognitive processes that play a key role in causing tinnitus. High levels of stress promote autonomic arousal and emotional distress that may cause insomnia and, ultimately, tinnitus. 

Elevated Levels of Glutamate

Acute and chronic stress or anxiety cause elevated levels of glutamate, which influences neurotransmission and further cause neuronal plasticity. This neuronal plasticity causes auditory dysfunction and may result in tinnitus. 

The increased glutamate levels also cause cells to become excessively sensitive to excitatory neurotransmitters, which causes excitotoxicity. This excitotoxicity affects the auditory system, which may further lead to tinnitus. 

Oxidative Stress

Excessive stress and anxiety cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which influence the acoustic nerves and play a key role in the pathogenesis of tinnitus. 

Oxidative stress also damages vascular endothelium, impairing blood flow towards the inner ear, which ultimately causes tinnitus. 

How Do I Know If My Tinnitus Is Caused by Anxiety?

To know if your tinnitus is caused by anxiety, you should check if the symptoms are exacerbating during any stressful event or after exposure to the stressors. It would be best if you looked for:

  • The timing of tinnitus symptoms beginning and worsening during any stressful event.
  • Other symptoms accompanying tinnitus include digestive issues, sleeping problems, headaches, and mood changes. 
  • Symptoms get relieved once the trigger is removed. 
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms like poor sleep, no physical activity and social isolation.

How to Stop Anxiety Tinnitus?

You can stop anxiety tinnitus by bringing some changes in your lifestyle and including exercise in your daily routine. You can follow the below-mentioned tips to stop anxiety-induced tinnitus.

  • Relaxation therapy includes deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation to keep yourself calm and composed. 
  • You can opt for cognitive behavioural therapy to help you identify triggers and provide healthy coping mechanisms. 
  • Daily exercise increases blood circulation and allows your body to relax and release happy hormones, promoting good sleep. 
  • Avoid alcohol and quit smoking, as it can exacerbate your symptoms. 

Does Tinnitus Caused by Stress Go Away?

Yes. Tinnitus caused by stress usually goes away as soon as the stressor or the stressful event causing it is passed. However, if it is chronic, then it may be due to any underlying condition, which should be ruled out.

Although coping with stress associated with tinnitus can be challenging, it can disappear if the root cause is treated properly. 

MOCEAN’s Tinnitus Therapy- Find Instant Relief From Stress and Anxiety

If you are stuck at ‘can stress cause tinnitus’ even after seeking therapy and want instant relief from stress and anxiety, then MOCEAN is the right choice!

At MOCEAN  Wellness Centre in NYC, we offer multiple therapies to promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. If you are suffering from stress-induced tinnitus, our professionals have the solution. 

We provide infrared saunas that relax and increase circulation, sound therapy that activates your parasympathetic response, which ultimately decreases stress hormones and relieves tinnitus symptoms, and red light therapy that releases stress and gives muscle relaxation.

The Bottom Line

Tinnitus is the perception of sound without any external stimuli or source. It can occur due to many reasons, such as diseases, auditory system dysfunction or hearing loss. But can stress cause tinnitus? The answer is yes. Stress and anxiety release certain hormones and inflammatory mediators that overstimulate the auditory system, resulting in tinnitus. 

So, if you want to calm your anxiety and get rid of tinnitus, book your appointment at MOCEAN Longevity Centre in NYC right away!



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