Hearing loss and stress

Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

Obviously Hearing Loss Creates Stress

Disabling hearing loss is so much more common than people think. Partly this is because it is an invisible disability: you cannot tell that someone suffers from hearing loss by looking at them. Partly this is because it is not often accurately portrayed in popular culture. Of course this is a chicken and egg situation, but hearing loss is rarely so sensational as it is likely to be portrayed in movies or TV. When we do see a character with hearing loss it defines them, which does not need to be the case at all in reality. And significantly, people fail to recognize how common it really is because many people live in denial that they are truly experiencing it. There are plenty of reasons for this. It comes on so gradually it is literally very difficult to even recognize the symptoms. And once one does come to terms with the fact that it is indeed happening, they are likely downplay its importance for many reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to admit that they are getting older. Perhaps they think they can adapt without much trouble. Perhaps they figure it probably can’t actually be that serious because it is so common.

Here are the facts: Over 13% of adults in the U.S. suffer hearing loss to some degree. This percentage increases progressively with age until astonishingly more than half of the population aged 75 and older deal with it. But also 2/3 of everyone who suffers from it does not seek proper care. And the people that do seek help wait an average of seven years before doing so.

But with even just a moment’s consideration the consequences of untreated hearing loss become apparent. First, hearing loss creates trouble following conversations, especially with multiple people or in settings with loud background noise. This trouble following conversations literally creates stress. Background energy in your brain is being used to a degree that it had never been before just to decode meaning from others. But also, this trouble following conversations causes one to withdraw socially, perhaps even unconsciously. And this social withdrawal creates stress. Social withdrawal leads to loneliness which creates stress. Loneliness leads to depression, which creates stress.

You see where this is going? Every step of the way, feeling out of control and powerless, hearing loss, which is irreversible, leads to compounding stress.

But Did You Know That Stress Can Also Lead to Hearing Loss?

But the reversal of this cause and effect, while not quite as common, is equally true. Stress can lead to hearing loss. So it is not only important for your stress levels to properly maintain your hearing health, it is equally important for your hearing health to maintain your stress levels. And think of how common stress and anxiety are in our culture? They are so normalized, we practically celebrate them as signs of strength and endurance. We celebrate them as signs of dedication to our careers and our loyalty to the culture of infinite growth. Stress and anxiety are so normalized they even become foundational standards for some of our most popular heroes and our most popular comedy. But obviously stress leads to an abundance of health problems and hearing loss is a lesser known result of the combination of man of these. Stress leads heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and all of these can lead to hearing loss.

Anything that restricts healthy circulation harms hearing. Hearing depends on the healthy functioning of the many minute parts of our ears. The tiny hairs in our ears that register sound and send signals to our brains to translate into meaning and spacial orientation all depend on healthy circulation. Anything less than that registers as compromised hearing. Poor circulation can lead not only to the loss of certain frequencies, but also to tinnitus. Even the simple fact of sleep loss can compound hearing troubles. It leads to abnormally frequent yawning which creates excessive pressure in the ears.

Take Action Today 

Take a short break. Disrupting the momentum by braking away from the cause of your stress can relieve it.

Exercise. It improves your circulation drastically.

Smile and laugh. Increasing the range of your facial muscles eases tension and releases relaxing signals to your brain.

And obviously seek immediate care for any underlying conditions, especially hearing loss, which is irreversible, but easily manageable with proper care.