Stress is a fact of life, and many Americans find themselves trying to cope with stress in their everyday lives. High levels of stress are linked to numerous health problems and long term, chronic stress can even cause hearing loss. But stress that can cause hearing loss is nothing to ignore. Here’s some information about stress and hearing loss and some tips to ease the stress in your life.
What is Stress?
First, a little stress is not necessarily bad for you. Species survive because they adapt or flee from environment. Even humans have the “fight or flight” response. Stress lets you know when to run from a dangerous situation or gives you the jolt of adrenaline necessary to stand your ground. Hence the adage – flight or fight.
But every day stress can take an unhealthy toll on you. Worrying about your job, your family, financial matters – even politics – can cause chronic stress. It’s that sort of stress that takes a toll on your health.
The National Institute of Mental Health cautions against long-term stress due to its harmful effects. During acute stress, adrenaline makes you breath faster and diverts oxygen hat is important for the entire body, to your muscles because it thinks you need to take action.
Adrenaline sitting in your body long-term can suppress your immune, digestive, reproductive and sleep systems.
Being constantly stressed means your body never gets a clear signal to clear the adrenaline out and return to normal. This is different than the “fight” adrenaline rush because your body, after a time, senses it should clear the adrenaline out. A state of constant stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses.
Stress and Hearing Loss
Things that restrict your circulation, like heart disease, diabetes and smoking, are going to negatively impact your hearing. The tiny sensory hairs in the inner ear depend on good circulation to keep translating the noise you hear into electrical impulses that the brain then translates into recognizable sound.
Each of your ear sensors is responsible for processing specific frequencies. When they are damaged or die, the ability to send the message is affected. The hairs don’t grow back. For a time, you may not notice something is wrong, but eventually the amount of damaged hair will mean hearing loss.
This type of hearing loss, due to damage, is called sensorineural hearing loss. Poor circulation can also be the reason you may feel the blood pulsing in your ears as your heart beats. This is called pulsatile tinnitus. Stress which causes high blood pressure is responsible for this condition.
Coping with Stress
Sensorineural hearing loss is not reversible, but reducing the amount of stress in your life can help protect your hearing due to poor circulation. The American Psychological Association has five tips for reducing stress:
- Take a break. Even spending 20 minutes away from the cause of your stress can improve your perspective on things and you will feel less overwhelmed.
- A 20-minute walk or exercise routine will provide health benefits for both your mind and body.
- Smile and laugh. (no, really!) Moving facial muscles helps ease jaw tension and sends a message to the brain to ease up.
- Talk to someone who is supportive. Talking to someone who is understanding can help you work through things and it can provide some positive feedback.
- It doesn’t mean you have to change into yoga pants and sit on the floor. But taking some time to just sit, clear your mind and relax can help bring a lot of things into focus.
Pacific Hearing Care
At Pacific Hearing Care, we are committed to making your life less stressful. Getting hearing aids could be the first step to reducing stress in your life. Think how relaxing it is to sit and listen to the quiet flow of a creek, the birds and the insects, the wind in the trees or even some great music. We are ready to help you reconnect with the sounds of your life. Call today for a hearing evaluation.