Anxiety and Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)

by Dr. R.E. Freedman

It’s not unusual to become aware of a background hissing or ringing in your ears when you are upset, stressed or in a very quiet room. This hypersensitivity occurs when your brain becomes reactive and your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. It may also occur when one has experienced prolonged stress and worry. In essence, all senses are turned onto high alert in order to protect you from a perceived danger. Sights, sounds, smells, touch and generally all of your senses are enhanced and in most cases exaggerated to almost uncomfortable levels.

With this hypersensitivity one becomes consciously and uncomfortably aware of auditory sounds that were never noticeable in the past. It’s as if someone has turned up the sound on your auditory (hearing) system and naturally the more upset one becomes, the louder and longer it persists.

The explanation of Tinnitus (ringing ears) for this is quite simple:

Tinnitus is a ringing, whooshing, hissing or pulsating, throbbing sound in one or both ears (usually stronger in one) that becomes more noticeable under stress, reclining in bed or in a quiet room.

Triggers that often result in Tinnitus:

– Neck difficulties such as Arthritis, or Stiff Neck, Upper Spinal Problems and Cracking Neck Sensations.

– TMJ (Temporalmandibular Jaw Difficulties) caused by Malocclusion (bite off or dental problems), experienced by clicking in jaw, popping sounds while chewing or yawning, exacerbated by grinding teeth while asleep or under stress. Jaw is often sore in front of ear which often extends to head, neck or back. Ringing in ears is also a common symptom of TMJ.

– Anxiety: Reactivity to outside stimuli due to a shock or prolonged period of stress which has yet to be reconciled. Fearful thought follows which often leads to sensitization.

– Sensitization: This is when the mind and body become extremely aware of every sensation which occurs, in an effort to keep one “on guard” in case of danger. This is the brain’s way of protecting you after a period of prolonged stress, which alerts and awakens all your senses to turn up the volume.

The Science:: The science behind these sensations is simple to understand and will enable you to use this understanding to release your fears, which often contribute the most to the fueling of the sensation. Anxiety reactions create the release of Adrenaline into your system. This Adrenaline, along with other stress chemicals increase the blood flow in the body and enhances, stimulates or excites certain organs and their performance capabilities. It stimulates the digestive tract, often resulting in IBS reactions. It stimulates blood flow to the face, resulting in blushing and warm flushes. It stimulates or excites your ears and hearing apparatus to turn up the volume and listen for more faint sounds that normally remain softly in the background. This is very noticeable in animals when there ears perk up, listening for threatening sounds in their surroundings. Naturally our ears aren’t noticeably lifting but it’s the identical principle as one goes into alert mode and the volume intensifies within

Solutions

The good news is that this is temporary and easily manageable when approached correctly. Understanding is the first place to go in order to achieve full recovery.

– Often learning the science behind this interruption is enough to calm one down and allow healing to take place. Without fearful thought and contemplation concerning this anxiety related symptom, the mind and body adjust and hearing settles back down to normal intensity. This will happen, when you learn to let go of your fear in a very specific manner.

– The brain actually does adjust to these intrusive sounds as it has its own way of compensating for disturbances such as these. The calmer the individual, the more rapid the adjustment. If you are anxious concerning this, do not fear because there is a very specific treatment where you can learn to settle down and create a less reactive mind and body.

– You may not be aware of this, but the more stressed you become the more intensified the ringing or hissing sounds become as well. This is why many find a loud hissing will often disappear completely after they fall asleep at night and actually soften the following morning, until they begin thinking about it again. Some even find it the ringing is completely gone until they focus on it or remind themselves about it. So much is dependent on how one thinks and the fear surrounding the thought.

– If you suffer with TMJ, visit your dentist and look into appliances you may use when asleep to interrupt grinding and give the jaw a rest. Muscles will relax and this often leads to great relief, not only from tinnitus but also TMJ pain in the face and jaw. Be aware of jaw clenching during the day and consciously relax your jaw and apply relaxation steps to ensure less pressure to this area.

– Speak to your physician about arthritis in neck area and learn physical therapy exercises to bring forth relief from a stiff or cracking neck.

– Remind yourself that anxiety symptoms often lead to Hyperacusis or acute hearing where sounds seem louder and more intrusive when stress is the culprit, regardless of the trigger. Your brain will always adjust if you learn to step out of your own way and learn to specifically relieve the stress.

– Don’t be fooled into believing you have to over-protect your ears by seeking out quiet places and situations. The ears actually require adequate stimulation. This allows the brain to turn down the internal volume, resulting in relief of intrusive noise rather than pump it up, which occurs when you seek prolonged periods of forced quiet time.

Bottom line, do not become stuck in sensitization or the fight or flight mode of living. Sensitized individuals are hyperaware and hyperreactive to all outside stimuli. By learning to live in a calmer less reactive way, you are turning down the volume on all levels. Hearing returns to normal as tinnitus fades into the background where it belongs. Reactivity to stressful situations becomes easier to handle when approached correctly and life becomes more enjoyable on all levels.

For further information on this topic and all other topics relating to anxiety and/or depersonalization, feel free to contact us:

Dr. R. E. Freedman
Anxiety Busters, Inc.
Office Phone: 215-635-4700
Office Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (EST)
info@anxietybusters.com
http://www.anxietybusters.com

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