02 December 2011

Tinnitus is 2.5 times more prevalent in those under stress

Researchers believe that there is a direct link between tinnitus and stress.

Tinnitus (ringing ears) is more than doubly prevalent in persons who are under stress or are burnt out than in other people. This is shown by a study from The Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

In the study, the test persons were exposed to stressful situations, for example answering questions while at the same time being interrupted. After the test, blood tests were taken as were new hearing tests. The blood tests tested for levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which is activated in stressful situations and animal tests have shown that cortisol affects hearing.

“We found that tinnitus is 2.5 times more prevalent in people who are under long-term stress,” says Professor Barbera Canlon, who was one of the people leading the research.

Perceiving sound poorly

There was also a clear tendency showing that sound recognition and the ability to perceive spoken numbers in noise was worse in the group of stressed subjects than in other people, says Barbera Canlon.
According to Barbera Canlon, this is the first time that it can be proven that long-term stress has an effect on hearing.
“It is important to consider long-term stress and the risk of burnout when treating tinnitus and over-sensitivity to sound,” says Barbera Canlon.
The researchers surmise, that tinnitus and stress react together in that stress can lead to tinnitus and tinnitus can lead to stress.

Thorough investigations

The researchers looked at 348 people, who were divided into three groups depending on their stress levels. The subjects underwent a thorough health examination and hearing tests. 31% of the participants in the study said, that they had tinnitus and a third of these had severe tinnitus.

Source: Auris nr. 6, 2011

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