Man with hands on head suffering from stress and Tinnitus.

Most people know prolonged periods of stress are not good for the body. And many people aren’t surprised that stress can produce tense muscles and headaches. But did you know that stress can actually lead to ringing, buzzing or clicking in the ears?

From stress to sinus infections to loud noises, tinnitus can be caused by many different things related to your health. Let’s take a look at a few possible causes of that annoying ringing in your ears.

Healthy Versus Unhealthy Stress

How can stress contribute to that annoying ringing in my ears, you might be wondering. We often don’t consider the full impact that stress can have on our systems. Or how it can lead to frustrating, painful or even serious conditions. But stress is nothing to ignore.

Healthy Stress

Stress that sticks around for a few minutes or even a few hours can actually play an important role in getting needed tasks done in a healthy way. If you’re coming up on a deadline, and you need to put all your focus towards completing a project, stress can be your best ally. It can give you that boost of energy to get the finishing touches done.

But, there is a difference between healthy, temporary stress and unhealthy, damaging stress. Healthy stress supports you in accomplishing a goal without harming your body. Unhealthy stress is another story altogether.

Unhealthy Stress

Unhealthy stress is produced when a person remains in a heightened state of arousal for a long period of time. Unhealthy stress is caused by fearing something that, more often than not, never actually happens.

Many people know this state as resulting from the “fight or flight” response. The “fight or flight” response is a natural reaction when we need to do something to keep ourselves safe. When a person stays in this hyper-aroused state for long periods of time, it can lead to anxiety and other physical symptoms.

Fearful Thinking

Unhealthy stress is the result of fearful thinking. We may exaggerate the importance of a situation or interaction with another person. We might tell ourselves that we destroyed a chance at a promotion because of one thing we said. This fearful thinking can lead to intrusive, seemingly unmanageable thoughts.

Unhealthy Stress and Intrusive Thoughts

We may worry about what we didn’t get completed today and fret over what we have to get done by tomorrow. We may obsess. We might lecture ourselves. We may allow panicky thinking.

Ultimately, we stress. And this unhealthy stress wears on our bodies unless we take steps to clear out the thoughts.

Typically unhealthy stress shows up physically are in the upper part of the body, in the form of muscle tension. These areas include the head, neck, jaw and shoulders.

Anger and Jaw Tension

You might’ve read a book where the author describes a character as being so angry their jaw clenched in rage. Jaw tension is a common symptom of stress, anger, and intrusive thoughts.

This sustained tension puts pressure on the fragile bones of the ear and eardrum. Over time, this strain can lead to that annoying ringing in the ears.

Sinus Infections and Ear Strain

From sore throats to stuffy noses, sinus infections bring along with them lots of unwelcome conditions.

Most people can easily connect sinus pressure, sinus headaches, and ear pressure with sinus infections. But fewer realize that these issues can lead to yet another symptom: buzzing, clicking or ringing of the ears.

Nasal congestion often spreads to the ears during a sinus infection. This can create excess ear wax and lead to a build-up of wax, causing blockages in the ear and excessive pressure on the eardrums. This pressure on the tiny bones of the ear can lead to the characteristics of tinnitus.

You might not need to go to a hearing professional if the ringing is the result of a sinus infection, as the condition may clear up on its own. But it never hurts to get a professional opinion, especially if the ringing persists.

Prolonged Exposure to Loud Noises

The occasional exciting, roaring concert is probably not going to cause ear-ringing. However, if you routinely expose your ears to intense sounds, you may be contributing to stress on the tender parts of your ear.

When you expose your ears to loud noises on a regular basis, your eardrums and the bones of the ear are placed under a lot of strain. This strain can lead to that annoying ringing, buzzing or clicking in your ear.

Beyond just the occasional ringing, exposure to loud sounds can result in temporary or permanent hearing impairment over time. It’s important to protect your ears from the elements and listen to music at a reasonable volume level.

Protecting Your Hearing

Whether caused by stress and muscle tension, an illness or loud noises, tinnitus is nothing to ignore. It’s best to get your ears checked on a regular basis. And if you suspect a more serious underlying cause of the ringing in your ears, you’ll probably want to get them checked out for your own peace of mind.