During these challenging times, my patients’ overall mood has been somber. I see fewer smiles and more frustration. Many of you have expressed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your quality of life. Some of my patients have had to reschedule important procedures, others have lost insurance (making paying for your medication difficult), and others are struggling to put food on the table.
I have tinnitus and have had it since I was a young child. When I get under stress, my tinnitus tends to get worse. I have noticed that when I take time to relax, that my tinnitus symptoms will decrease.
Unfortunately, the ramifications of this pandemic will be long-lasting. It has caused a great deal of uncertainty and continues to cause unrest and anxiety.
During this pandemic, I have taken the role of educator in my community. I want to teach people about the added stress exacerbating your tinnitus (ringing in the ears). I have noticed many of my patients reporting a recent increase in tinnitus. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. Stress can cause many problems and exacerbate others.
Tinnitus, a known side effect of hearing loss, can be dealt with daily until stress levels rise and tinnitus becomes significantly worse. Besides hearing loss, stress and anxiety can also cause tinnitus.
If the patient is not considered a candidate for amplification after a thorough health history review and hearing evaluation, I counsel them regarding the snowball effect.
The Snowball Effect
Tinnitus, if caused mostly by stress or anxiety, can become never-ending as the body reacts physically in other ways, causing additional problems such as insomnia, anxiety, and even depression. These other problems only intensify the tinnitus, trapping patients in a vicious cycle. To avoid this cycle, patients must find a way to relax and manage their symptoms instead of stressing and exacerbating them. Fortunately, individuals with tinnitus can follow the tips below to learn to control their stress before it causes worse problems.
Where Do We Start
During these times, we need to be creative!
1. Schedule A Hearing Evaluation
Tinnitus and hearing loss usually go hand in hand. About 90% of my patients who are diagnosed with hearing loss also suffer from tinnitus. For some of them, the tinnitus is not bothersome. For others, it is debilitating. As a doctor of audiology, I am well versed in tinnitus and tinnitus treatment.
2. Reevaluate Your Social Media Time
Check how much social media you are consuming. Ask yourself, “Am I using this to create meaningful connections and relax or is this causing my stress levels to rise?”
3. Reach Out
If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or alone, reach out to a friend or family member. Chances are, they are feeling lonely too—especially during this time! Although expressing your feelings can seem scary, it is the first step to releasing your negative emotions. Reaching out to a mental health professional or your primary care physician is also a good idea since anxiety is sometimes associated with other mental health disorders.
One way to reduce stress is to simply exercise. Exercise has been proven to help individuals relax, forget about what is bothering them, and simply enjoy life. Another good option for reducing stress is to participate in yoga and meditation sessions or get a massage on a regular basis.
Nobody wants to have tinnitus and those who have it already certainly don’t want their symptoms to worsen. If you or someone you know suffers from tinnitus, your first step should be to find a local audiologist. We are doctors of audiology who have nearly a combined 30 years of experience diagnosing and treating tinnitus. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 520-881-8740. You can also check our website at www.sonorahearingcaretucson.com