64% of tinnitus patients report that the condition and symptoms have caused mental health problems. 10% of the world’s population suffers from tinnitus, a disorder often accompanied by hearing loss. Tinnitus can affect an individual’s personal life, relationships, and mental health, causing problems such as depression, anxiety, and frustration.
Hearing loss or tinnitus can have a severe impact on mental health. Suppose a person no longer hears everything and has problems understanding conversation correctly. In that case, this can lead to feeling excluded and withdrawing from his social environment. In addition, the feeling of frustration and loneliness increases and, in the worst case, can lead to severe depression, which affects your mental health.
A new study on untreated hearing loss impacts clarifies that managing your hearing problems leads to a happier, healthier life and benefits your mental health.
Let’s check out what tinnitus is, how it affects mental health, and ways to control it.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus refers to noises heard continuously or intermittently “in the ear” or “in the head” without sources in the environment. This common phenomenon affects around 15% of the population at one point or another in life. In 95% of cases, Tinnitus is not severe. The origins of tinnitus are varied, but they are most often related to hearing loss resulting from hearing trauma or age-related ear wear and tear.
What are the causes of tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of another underlying health problem. In most cases, tinnitus is a sensorineural reaction to damage to the ear or hearing system that occurs in the brain. Although tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, some 200 health problems can cause it.
The underlying hearing loss in tinnitus can be caused by presbycusis, a hearing loss associated with aging, usually starting around the age of 60. This phenomenon, most often bilateral, results in hearing loss mainly at high frequencies.
- Noise-induced hearing loss: exposure to loud sounds during noise trauma or over a long period can damage the hearing system. This phenomenon causes hearing loss and often tinnitus. The damage is usually unilateral and results in hearing loss at frequencies similar to those that triggered the trauma.
- Obstruction of the ear canal: Obstructions in the ear canal (earwax, congestion, etc.) often put pressure on the inner ear, affecting the functioning of the eardrum. Foreign bodies in contact with the eardrum can cause tinnitus. Removing the cause of the blockage is often sufficient to remedy tinnitus, except in cases of injury.
Impacts of tinnitus or hearing loss on mental health
The impacts of tinnitus on mental health are already well known. Depression, social isolation, and loneliness are just a few of the common consequences of untreated hearing loss.
The study on the impact of tinnitus on psychological well-being and lifestyle” also establishes the following findings:
- For 89% of participants, personal and social problems are the most common consequences of tinnitus.
- Many participants in relationships with people who are hard of hearing report having to leave their partner because of the frustration and impact it had on their relationship. 58% of participants clearly stated that hearing loss is hurting their relationships.
- Many people who are hard of hearing admit that their hearing impairment has made them depressed.
- At the same time, 75% of them also say they have concerns and uncertainties about buying a hearing aid.
Tinnitus and mental health
The main difficulties of individuals facing hearing loss are now updated. Let us take the time to examine them more closely.
According to the study, people with untreated hearing loss are likely to experience frustration, anxiety, and fear. The development of such reactions and emotions generates stress and anxiety. In some cases, it can also promote insomnia or trouble sleeping. The impacts on mental health are therefore significant.
How does hearing loss affect mental health?
Hearing, taste, smell, touch, and sight work together to contribute to our overall health. In particular, hearing can affect our brains.
It can indeed generate hearing fatigue caused by processing a large amount of sounds, noises, and information. In these cases, it is not only the ears that are exhausted; it is also the brain.
Heat is another factor that can play a role, especially in the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear from a very high fever, fluctuations in blood pressure, or physical trauma to the ear, for example, can affect balance and therefore hearing.
In short, tinnitus and hearing loss is not trivial. Fortunately, a hard-of-hearing individual can take action to cope with and remedy all of these difficulties.
If you know someone with hearing loss going through these ordeals, being hard of hearing, we know how frustrating it can be. It is essential to be patient and support them as much as possible.
If you are battling hearing loss yourself, know that you are not alone and that there are many resources for help. These difficulties may seem overwhelming at times and we recommend you set up an appointment with your hearing health professional.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus hearing loss, you can also try the AudioCardio™ app, which delivers data and science-backed sound therapy designed to maintain and strengthen your hearing by stimulating the cells inside your ear. It’s like physical therapy for your hearing. It generates personalized sound therapies to help stimulate and strengthen your cells, leading to a happier and healthier life.