Tinnitus is characterized by ringing, hissing, whooshing or other intrusive sounds in the ear or ears. It may be constant or intermittent. The noises may range from faint to loud. They are generally not dangerous but can be quite annoying and upsetting if one is unfamiliar with what is occurring.
Tinnitus is often linked to increased periods of anxiety and stress. The explanation is simple and makes a great deal of sense for those who are unaware of what is going on. Knowing the truth behind the symptom allows one to not only understand but to cope with the sensation and ultimately eliminate it.
When one is stressed or upset, the body releases adrenaline, which provides the system with energy to escape or run when faced with a frightening situation. If, on the other hand, one has faced a constant stress or worry, the body is releasing adrenaline in smaller increments, sometimes all day long. This leaves the mind and body in a state of sensitization. It's not quite as strong as a panic attack or "fight or flight" episode, but just enough to trigger the constant release of adrenaline and other stress chemicals to keep you on your toes. Every part of the mind and body is on high alert at this time, as if someone turned up the volume on all your senses.
One experiences an increase in sensitivity as their senses become more acute and sharper. The body is on high alert as it becomes more aware of changes in one's surroundings and environment. Senses increase in all areas:
– Eye sight becomes sharper, in order to detect any change in one's situation.
– Sense of smell is heightened, to detect any changes in the environment.
– Hearing is enhanced as even the faintest of sounds is heard, where in the past they would be lost in the background.
Due to this noticeable change in hearing, one may become upset over the loud ringing or hissing that seems to fill the head, replacing what was formerly a quiet, peaceful silence. Naturally, the more upset one becomes over these noises. the worse they become because fear only ramps up one's acuity in all the senses. When the body is in constant fight or flight mode, it naturally goes into alert status and therefore enhanced hearing is actually normal in the circumstance and will settle down when one relaxes and calms down.
In essence, when highly stressed or when the build up of stress occurs, the ears are doing their job by tuning up to detect any danger surrounding you. Once you settle down, the volume goes right back down to normal intensity.
You might wonder why it often happens all day long without a break in this sensation. This is because your mind and body have become temporarily sensitized or temporarily locked in the fight or flight state. This means that your hearing is temporarily more sensitive, sharper and more acute.
Do not be fooled into believing you must protect your ears during this time. Creating a quiet environment or covering the ears only intensifies this reaction. The ears open up to hear more when sound is blocked. The brain is compensating for lack of normal sounds. This is why when you put your hands over your ears, the hissing or ringing sound increases as the internal volume is increased to ensure hearing. When you stop pampering your ears you might notice an increase in sound intensity as the ear readjusts to normal sounds.
– Understanding is essential. Knowing that stress / anxiety and fear are the culprits allows you to learn coping skills to eliminate these symptoms and sensations.
– Don't treat yourself as if you are ill. Don't cover your ears or believe you must protect them, unless you are in a concert environment with temporary loud, intrusive sounds. Remember, the more you cover your ears, the more you could be causing your ears to compensate. Your ears need to be stimulated by normal sounds, which helps the volume remain at normal levels.
– Don't feel you have to check in and measure the intensity of sound. Lose yourself in your work or activities and know that less worry, less fear promotes a peaceful mind and body, with less intrusive symptoms such as this.
– Learn the best ways to approach anxiety, stress and fears, which in turn will bring down the intensity of these inner sounds, eventually eliminating them completely.
– Consider taking a good B Complex vitamin daily, which will calm your nerves and help create a relaxed mind and body.
– Exercise daily. Moderation in everything. Your goal is stress-free activity to achieve peace and calm.
– Meditation is also helpful. Try our one minute meditation. Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, hold this to the count of 4 and when you exhale through your mouth, let all the stresses of the day (the ones you've been carrying on your shoulders) release with this very slow exhalation. You will feel lighter, relaxed and at peace with the world. Your shoulders will have relaxed as well.
– Know this is an all natural process, medication being unnecessary. In fact, check with your physician if you are taking any medication that might trigger tinnitus or if you have a wax build-up in your ear that can be easily alleviated.
– Notice your emotions at the time when the tinnitus is the strongest. Face your emotions and the brain will not use the symptoms as a distraction. This holds true for many intrusive body symptoms. The brain often distracts you from painful emotions by presenting body symptoms.
Most of all, understand that tinnitus, although annoying and upsetting is not a dangerous situation. Always make sure that you eliminate any physical cause first, before assuming it is anxiety related. If you are told it is related to your high anxiety levels, be relieved to know that you can easily handle this and alleviate these sounds through a simple and effective solution.
– You will experience a noticeable change in the noises you've experienced in your ear or ears.
– Sounds such as ringing, hissing and whooshing will diminish and eventually dissolve.
– You will become a calmer, more focused individual, without the fear and worry over this symptom.
– Do not be concerned if another symptom pops up to take its place as this is how the anxiety cycle often works. If so, you would use the same approach to achieve the same result. Eventually, you recognize how the brain uses symptoms to distract you from emotions. Face your emotions and the symptoms melt away. Fear the symptoms and you are fueling them.
Most of all, understand that identifying and coping with anxiety and stress will settle down a sensitized body and result in a strong reduction in tinnitus. When the fear is completely gone, so will the noises that are currently plaguing you. Life returns to normal as the sounds fade off into the distance, where they belong, and eventually disappear altogether.