Fifteen to twenty percent of people experience the sensation of a ringing sound in their ears. This buzzing or humming, also known as tinnitus, is not a condition itself, but a symptom of something underlying. There a several conditions that can cause this ringing, and it can be challenging to diagnose at times. But can anxiety cause ringing in the ears?
While this condition is not usually a sign of something more serious, it can be incredibly annoying. Some people only experience mild symptoms, but tinnitus can overwhelm others. Treatment and relief are possible, but there is no concrete cure.
What is Tinnitus?
A phantom ringing sound in the ears is a frequent problem for people. This condition, called tinnitus, can be irritating for some. Bothersome or not, this occurrence can be a sign of something else or random.
Tinnitus can be a ringing sound, but also presents as humming, clicking, whooshing, or roaring. You can hear the noise in either one or both ears, and it can range in pitch. For some, the sounds are so problematic that they interfere with daily life. It is possible to hear the noise all the time, or it can come and go.
There are two types of tinnitus. The most common is subjective, where only you can hear the ringing. In contrast, your doctor can listen to objective tinnitus during an examination. Both types of tinnitus have separate underlying causes.
The subjective kind of tinnitus describes ringing in the ears that only you can hear. Ear problems and nerve problems are usually the culprits. However, these issues are not the only thing that can cause buzzing or humming in the ears.
Sometimes there is no cause. Doctors are still unsure as to why it happens with no reason. Infrequent, random bouts of tinnitus are most likely not due to underlying issues.
Anxiety and Your Brain
Everybody experiences occasional stress, which is just a part of life. Anxiety can take over sometimes, however, and it can be hard to bear. Your brain has a lot to do with your response to stressors, and if there is an imbalance, problems will arise.
The human instinct to be on alert can appear at the wrong time. You can get stuck in a constant state of anxiety, which can cause emotional and physical symptoms. There can be no reason at all for feeling anxious, and that is when it turns into a disorder.
A constant state of fight or flight response is unhealthy. With your mind continually worrying, you are unable to get the rest you need. Even if you are getting enough sleep, your brain is working overtime in other areas.
When you have persistent anxiety, both your brain and body suffer. Elevation of the heart rate can occur, and you may have trouble breathing. It can also cause stomach issues, depression, headaches, muscle aches, irritability, and more.
If your brain is unable to create specific pathways, it causes things to slow down. As a result, other parts of the body kick into high gear to try and compensate. The reaction triggers a domino effect throughout the body, and it is essential to see your doctor if you think anxiety is a problem for you.
Tinnitus and Anxiety
Anxiety and tinnitus often go hand in hand. However, it can be hard to correlate the two because of the complicated nature of tinnitus. The fact that ear ringing can happen for no reason brings forth a certain amount of uncertainty.
Researchers are unsure of the exact relationship between these two conditions. However, they are sure there is one. A few theories out there point out some links, but there is nothing concrete.
Two issues that anxiety causes are possible triggers for tinnitus. One is that with anxiety, it can be a challenge to ignore problems or stressful situations. Therefore, a person with mild ear ringing may find it impossible to forget about it.
The other issue is hypersensitivity. When someone with an anxiety disorder becomes hyper-aware, it can also be hard to ignore. This hyper-awareness can exacerbate any ear ringing that is already present.
Similarly, any previous ear ringing that was easy to ignore can trigger again, causing it to become worse than before. It is possible that the heightened adrenaline from anxiety
Interestingly, ear ringing can be the cause of anxiety. Much like most things regarding tinnitus, doctors are not exactly sure why tinnitus triggers anxiety. People can start having problems with tinnitus and develop anxiety if it is disruptive enough.
Relief from Tinnitus
There are a few ways to relieve tinnitus, but there is not a cure. You can find relief from this form of tinnitus by addressing the anxiety. Most people who tend to their distress with therapy or medication find that the ringing diminishes.
Some have found that massaging the ears with their thumb and index finger gives them relief. The increased blood flow goes to the inner ears, which in turn may assist as a temporary remedy. The ringing may even disappear altogether, but there are no assurances.
Other temporary measures may work as well, allowing you to move on with your life. However, if your tinnitus is anxiety-related, the solution may not work as well, or at all. You need to address the anxiety separately, or relief may never be possible.
Ear ringing can either be mildly annoying or a constant source of anxiety and stress. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns. With so many potential causes, they will want to do tests and ask questions to get an idea of what is going on.
So can anxiety cause ringing in the ears? Possibly, if your doctor thinks this is the case, they will focus on helping you get it under control. Depending on your stress levels, they may even recommend a therapist. Luckily, a lot of the time, having ways to manage anxiety will, in turn, help to manage tinnitus.