Can Stress Cause Tinnitus? Listening for Clues

Intrigued by the link between stress and tinnitus; Discover how stress might be the hidden factor behind that persistent ringing in your ears.
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Have you ever noticed a nagging ringing in your ears during stressful times? You’re not alone. This condition, known as tinnitus, could be linked to stress 1.

Scientists are studying this connection. They believe managing stress might help lessen tinnitus symptoms.

Key Takeaways

  • Stress plays a crucial role in triggering and increasing the severity of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus symptoms can be exacerbated by prolonged periods of stress.
  • Effective treatment of tinnitus involves understanding and managing stress levels.

This blog is part of a series on “physical symptoms of stress“.

Stress as a Potential Tinnitus Trigger

We all know how stress can play tricks on us, don’t we? And one of its tricks is to be a significant trigger for tinnitus. Ongoing stress can contribute to the development and worsening of tinnitus symptoms. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

When our stress levels are high, we might find ourselves with increased ear discomfort or changes in our hearing. The link between stress and tinnitus isn’t just a random connection; it’s as interconnected as cookies and milk. Research tells us that almost a quarter of folks with tinnitus blame their condition on chronic stress.

This constant state of tension can directly crank up the volume and discomfort of tinnitus. The longer stress sticks around, the more severe our tinnitus symptoms can become.

The Impact of Emotional States

Emotion has a big part to play in how we experience tinnitus. It’s like a tangled ball of yarn, where one thread can’t be pulled without affecting the others. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD are all part of this emotional knot.

Now it’s not exactly a party to hear that our emotional states can influence the severity of our tinnitus symptoms. But understanding this connection is a major step in managing them better. Studies show that when our anxiety, insomnia, or depression levels rise, so can the severity of tinnitus.

The way our bodies handle stress, thanks to the good old hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and neurotransmitters, could be the root of this connection. It’s like a game of telephone in our bodies, where stress might be sending the wrong message and cranking up our tinnitus volume.

Interestingly, those of us dealing with PTSD and tinnitus seem to have some common ground – a lower tolerance for loud noises. It’s like being at a rock concert with no earplugs. This shared trait hints at potential similarities in treatment approaches.

Treating Tinnitus Linked to Stress

Treating tinnitus related to stress focuses on addressing the stress that can both cause and exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction are two effective approaches to managing stress and, consequently, tinnitus.

Tinnitus treatment and stress

CBT helps individuals understand and change their thought patterns related to tinnitus, reducing stress and its impact on the condition. Mindfulness practices, on the other hand, assist in developing a more accepting and less reactive relationship to tinnitus sounds, thereby lessening stress responses.

These stress management techniques are pivotal in controlling tinnitus symptoms, suggesting that reducing stress could potentially alter the course of tinnitus. Research supports the idea that interventions targeting stress can significantly benefit individuals with tinnitus by decreasing its severity and improving quality of life.


Stress can indeed make tinnitus worse or even cause it. Research shows that long-term stress can change your limbic system. This system helps control emotions and this change can lead to tinnitus.

Studies reveal that about half of the people with tinnitus say stress makes their symptoms worse. Managing stress is very important to treat tinnitus and improve your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Tinnitus Caused by Stress Go Away?

Yes, stress-induced tinnitus can improve or even disappear with effective stress management. Lowering stress levels can reduce tinnitus symptoms. Hence, addressing stressors and using stress reduction strategies can help. Regular stress management can decrease tinnitus caused by stress.

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

To determine if anxiety is causing your tinnitus, observe your emotional state. If you notice amplified ringing sounds during stress, have difficulty focusing, or experience sleep disturbances, anxiety might be the trigger. Addressing both conditions is crucial for enhancing life quality and well-being.

Does Anything Help Tinnitus?

There is no definitive cure for tinnitus, but various strategies can help manage the condition. These include sound therapy, relaxation techniques, counseling, and hearing aids. Avoiding loud noises, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and reducing stress can also alleviate symptoms. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized treatment options.

Can Tinnitus Go Away?

Tinnitus often improves or even resolves over time, with results depending on the cause and personal circumstances. Lowering stress can lessen the severity. It’s crucial to get evaluated medically and adopt suitable management methods to boost improvement probabilities. Although not everyone may experience complete disappearance, treatments and coping strategies can significantly improve life quality.

  1. The association between stress, emotional states, and tinnitus: a mini-review – PMC ([]
Alex Reijnierse
Alex Reijnierse

Alex Reijnierse is a stress management expert with over a decade of experience in helping individuals effectively manage and reduce stress. He holds a Master of Science (MSc) and has a background in high-pressure environments, which has given him firsthand experience in dealing with chronic stress.

The articles on this website are fact-checked, with sources cited where relevant. They also reflect personal experiences in dealing with the effects of stress and its management. When in doubt, consult with a certified healthcare professional. See also the disclaimer.