Are you feeling stressed? Stress affects millions of Americans. Chronic stress can lead to a number of health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. Stress is also linked to hearing loss.
What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s physical response to your environment, your sensations, and even your thoughts. When you’re stressed, your body has a “fight or flight” response, preparing you to run from a threat or fight your way out of a dangerous situation. Your heart rate increases, your muscles tense for action, and you feel a rush of adrenaline. When you’re faced with a life threatening situation, this stress response can be good, and might even save your life.
The problem with stress is that we often feel this stress in response to thoughts or feelings, not physical dangers around us. We worry about our families, our children, and our finances. Many people feel stressed every day, and this chronic stress impacts well-being. When extra oxygen and energy are constantly sent to your muscles to prepare you for action, your immune system and digestive system are weakened. Chronic stress will impact your sleep, your emotions, and your overall health.
A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss
When you experience chronic stress, your body is on high alert all the time. Your body doesn’t receive a signal that the threat has passed, and heightened stress becomes the new normal. Stress affects your circulation, and more oxygen-rich blood is sent to your muscles. Over time, this will negatively affect your hearing health.
The delicate cells in the inner ear translate sound waves from your environment into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. These cells need good circulation and a steady supply of oxygen to do their job. When you’re stressed, you experience poor circulation that can deprive your ears of the oxygen then need to stay healthy. Stress can lead to damage in your ears, and once the cells die you’ll have hearing loss.
Stress and Tinnitus
Stress can also lead to tinnitus, that ringing or buzzing sound in your ears that only you can hear. Tinnitus is often an early sign of hearing loss, and it’s caused by cell damage in the ears. When you feel stressed, your tinnitus will seem more noticeable. As your tinnitus bothers you more and more, you’ll get even more stressed, and this negative cycle will impact your health and well being.
How to Reduce Stress
Reducing your overall stress will help you stay calm at work, enjoy time with your family, and protect your hearing. You can’t reverse hearing loss, but you can take steps to protect your hearing, and reduce your experience of tinnitus. You can reduce stress by:
- Taking a break – If you feel very stressed, take a break. Get up from your desk, drink some water, and clear your head. When you come back to the task, you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
- Asking for social support – You can ask your loved ones for support when you feel stressed. Talk to a friend or family member about what you’re going through, and accept their positive support.
- Exercising – Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress. When you exercise you can release all that pent-up energy from your muscles, and enjoy a rush of endorphins that will decrease stress.
- Smiling – It might be hard to smile when you feel stressed, but by smiling and relaxing the muscles in your forehead and face, you can send the brain a signal that you’re happy.
- Meditating – When you’re feeling stressed, meditating can help you relax, release the stress, and regain focus.
Treating Hearing Loss
Living with untreated hearing loss can also increase your stress. You’re worried that you can’t follow conversations, and you feel embarrassed when asking people to repeat themselves. Treating hearing loss will help you hear clearly, reduce stress, and give you more confidence in social situations.
When you visit us, we will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test to find out exactly what sounds you aren’t hearing. Then we’ll work together to find the right hearing aids that will match your hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. Treating hearing loss will help you reduce stress, and enjoy clear hearing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!