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Can Anxiety Cause Tinnitus or Ear Ringing?

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Anxiety is the response or reaction to stress or fear-induced situations that are dangerous to you. Symptoms of anxiety include irritability, mood swings, isolation, overthinking, excessive worry, irrational fear. Anxiety may be a result of underlying health issues, experiences, trauma, environment.

When your fight-or-flight mode is activated through anxiety, this puts a lot of strain on your body and causes imbalances in your body’s mechanism. This leads to certain consequences that may aggravate underlying health conditions which includes tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the persistent ringing sound occurring in the head or in one or both ears. Most sounds associated with tinnitus can be a buzzing, ringing, whooshing, musically, screeching, or beeping sound.

It mostly occurs in older adults and is closely associated with hearing loss. Although prevalent in ages 55 and above, it is not uncommon in younger adults and can affect sleep patterns, concentration, and social activities.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus pronounced tih-NITE-us or TIN-ih-tus is a term used to describe a common clinical problem characterized by a persistent ringing sound in the head. It is a constant head noise occurring inside or outside the head and in one or both ears, this noise can be as a buzzing, humming, grinding, whistling, hissing, roaring, or high pitched static sound. It may occur periodically, more than once in a week and last for at least 5 minutes, incessantly or at intervals with a steadfast or pulsating rhythm.

There are two remain types of tinnitus:

Subjective tinnitus – is an internal sound perceived only by the patient.

Objective tinnitus – characterized by an actual noise that both the patient and the examiner can hear.

Objective tinnitus is the most common type to be recorded, although subjective tinnitus can occur en masse after being exposed to extremely loud noise in events such as concerts, clubs, and parties.

Tinnitus is strongly associated with hearing loss and can affect sleep, concentration, emotions, and social reaction. It has a prevalence of 10% to 25% among persons older than 18 years of age, especially in people over age 55.

Related: Debilitating Anxiety – How To Get Relief

What Are The Symptoms Of Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is best described as noise inside the head or ear not caused by outside sounds or external causes, usually characterized by a constant ringing or buzzing sound.

However, it can be accompanied by a variety of other sounds. For some, these sounds may be a ringing noise, electric buzzing, sizzling, musical, screeching, whining, whooshing, beeping, or throbbing sounds.

These sounds vary in tempo and pitch levels, they may be low-pitched or high-pitched sounds depending on individual cause and impact.

Sometimes these sounds might occur in the morning, at night, in a quiet background, or over loud external noises. You may experience this noise constantly or intermittently, for a short period or a longer period like 6 months where it is diagnosed as chronic tinnitus.

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What Are The Causes Of Tinnitus?

Tinnitus occurs in two ways, gradually or suddenly. There are no logical reasons regarding why this happens, although it can result from different factors such as.


Tinnitus can arise when you are exposed to high noise or noisy environment and may be short-lived or long term. Exposures include concerts, parties, clubhouses.


Medications taken in high doses or with certain side effects can trigger tinnitus, some of these medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Always read through your drug’s leaflet or seek a doctor’s approval before use.


The process of growth comes with different medical issues including tinnitus. It is most common in older people of ages 55, 60, and above, and tightly linked to hearing loss.

Earwax buildup

Excess earwax can lead to tinnitus as this creates blockages and disrupts the normal workings of the ear.

Ear infection

Middle ear infection, ear inflammatory, or allergic ear diseases are also causes of tinnitus

Ménière’s disease

Ménière’s disease is a condition that arises because of imbalances in the inner ear. Tinnitus, along with hearing loss and vertigo, may be indications of underlying health conditions, including ménière’s disease.

Hearing loss

Loss of hearing from ear infections and old age may be accompanied by sounds such as ringing, buzzing, and other types in the ear.

Impact Of Tinnitus

Effects of tinnitus may be short-lived or long term depending on the level of the condition and individual’s health. Persons suffering from tinnitus experience some of these problems separately or concurrently with tinnitus.

Inability to concentrate

Difficulty concentrating is more likely to occur when there is a persistent ringing sound in your ear, it drowns other sounds making them appear to be faint.

Mood swings

Tinnitus can disrupt your mood, causing irritability, dizziness, and other anxiety-related symptoms.

Work and social activities

Restrictions on social enjoyment and work performance are not left out. Loud noises in your head or ear can cause distractions and make it quite difficult to concentrate on what is going on around you.

Productivity level

Besides previous effects, tinnitus can cause imbalances and underachievement.

How Is Tinnitus Associated With Anxiety

As a general rule, it is common knowledge that anxiety is your body’s reaction to situations that appear threatening to you, your fight-or-flight mode is activated in these conditions. Whether these situations are truly dangerous depends on your perception of fear and danger, although this can be influenced by your environment, health conditions, and experience.

Tinnitus, in contrast, is a ringing or buzzing sound in your ear without external factors. These sounds vary for each person as they may be high pitched or low pitched.

Tinnitus can result from anxiety, just as anxiety can also lead to tinnitus. Stress can cause anxiety, which leads to tinnitus, although this mostly occurs when anxiety is at its peak and only appears for a short time before dissolving.

Anxiety and tinnitus are both intertwined as anxiety causes stress and pressure that affects your body’s metabolism, leading to or exacerbating health issues including tinnitus.

Tinnitus can arise because of hearing problems, this means tinnitus is a common symptom and impact for people with hearing loss or other ear problems. When stress aggravates or triggers tinnitus, it can lead to irrational behaviors, mood swings, and anxiety in patients with hearing or ear problems.

Can Anxiety Lead To Tinnitus

There is no research yet available to prove that anxiety causes tinnitus. Anxiety may have a range of different impacts including physical, psychological, and emotional effects but how it causes tinnitus is not yet exactly known.

Anxiety is activated by your fear and stress from work, school, environment, tasks, and even thoughts. When you experience anxiety to a certain level or in excess degree, it can place pressure on your body and disrupt the normal process. This can increase or exacerbate underlying health conditions including tinnitus. Although this may occur when your anxiety level is at its highest, the effect is usually short-lived and dissipates just as fast as it appeared.

How To Get Relief From Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be treated with a series of effective methods. These methods focus on educating, exposing, and restructuring your notions of tinnitus.

Cognitive Behavioral Training (CBT) – involves relaxation strategies to help restructure your thoughts and reactions to tinnitus so that it becomes less noticeable

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – individual counselling to educate and retrain your brain responses to tune out the sound and become less aware of it.

Counselling – series of appointments and psychotherapy to educate you on tinnitus, how to manage it, and develop coping mechanisms for it. Here your therapist takes you through a process that aims to evaluate the cause, sign, and impact of tinnitus and help you develop ways to cope with it.

Masking and sound therapy – use of devices or sounds to generate white noise in minimal levels to reduce the perception of tinnitus.

Biofeedback to stress – using mindfulness stress reduction techniques as a way of controlling stress by altering and changing your thoughts and feelings towards stress.


It is safe to say that anxiety and tinnitus are related. One can cause the other and vice versa or, as in common cases, aggravate the other. Tinnitus can become chronic and debilitating, leading to hearing loss. Although common in older adults, it is not strange to younger adults. Early interventions in anxiety and health conditions including ear-related problems are better, to prevent crippling consequences. Go for a diagnosis to determine your level of tinnitus to determine what method works best for you. Try to relax too and control stress levels so it doesn’t aggravate underlying health problems.

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