Researchers are now saying there may be a link between tinnitus, a common hearing problem, and COVID-19, which may be worsening or even triggering it all together. Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, humming, etc., in the ears and head. It is also linked to reduced emotional well-being, depression, and anxiety.
With business closures, event cancellations, travel restrictions, and a skyrocketing unemployment count, you can certainly see how this pandemic is causing a high amount of anxiety worldwide. There is no surprise that your tinnitus stressors and worries may also be increasing.
How is Anxiety from Coronavirus Making Tinnitus Worse?
First, we have to take a look at why the Coronavirus is causing anxiety. Experts say three main factors are contributing to the ongoing stress of the pandemic:
- Unpredictability. We don’t know what will happen next, how long we will be in a state of emergency, or when things will begin to open back up.
- Lack of control. We have never experienced anything to this degree in our lifetime, so we have no control over how to manage it.
- Threats to well-being. This virus outbreak is threatening people and things that we value.
Both stress and anxiety derive from the limbic system. This is the emotional area of our brain, controlling our mood, personality, and decision making. However, anxiety is a normal response to changes occurring in the world. It can also impact our sense of well being and exacerbate tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus is also perceived in the limbic system. However, the ringing, buzzing, or whistling in the ears can be increase or even be triggered by stress. Tinnitus, by itself, will generally cause stress, and this creates a cycle of buzzing that, in turn, causes anxiety that causes more buzzing!
You may feel like you do not have much control over your emotions or that your daily well-being is impacted adversely by tinnitus. If you would like to evaluate your level of tinnitus, you can take this brief survey.
How to Relieve Tinnitus Stress From Coronavirus
- Practice healthy habits. Create or maintain regular sleep and wake times. Make sure you are operating on some form of schedule rather than lounging most of the day. Practice healthy eating habits and exercise at least twice per week. Studies have shown proper eating and exercise can reduce stress and help boost your immune system. Even something as simple as a walk helps.
- Incorporate relaxation exercises into your daily routine. Anything you can do to counter the autonomic stress response is helpful. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are just a few useful tools to counter the stress response. You may also try sound therapy, and some hearing aids have this technology build into them to help those dealing with tinnitus.
- Avoid silence. If your work quickly came to a stop or you’re now working from home, keep calming, low-level white noise or sound on during all times to help you focus or relax. Use bedside sound therapy at night to help you better sleep.
- Limit the amount of time you are spending checking for COVID-19 updates and stick to credible sources. Try to keep viewing to no more than two times per day. Sources such as The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, along with your state and city government websites, are going to be the most reliable sources for news.
At Salem Audiology Clinic, we’re here for you. We understand that the change we are all experiencing right now is highly stressful and can negatively impact your tinnitus. We care about your well-being and want to continue to support you in any way possible during this time.
Whether you have been a patient for years or new to our clinic, please contact us and schedule a consultation with one of our Audiologists today!