The link between tinnitus and stress

Author thumbnail Kirsten Ellis  |  Published 26 June 2023  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 4 mins read

A person practicing yoga at sunset.

Tinnitus can’t exactly be treated or cured. But since it’s common for stress to make tinnitus worse, learning to manage the stress can help.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is often thought of as ringing in your ears. But tinnitus symptoms can actually include any kind of noise that has no external source. It can present as buzzing, whooshing, ringing, hissing, whistling or other types of noises. It can vary in volume and is unique to every person. 

While tinnitus is still something of a question mark – with no true ‘cure’ – one in three people will get it in their lives, according to Tinnitus UK. And for one in seven, the tinnitus can become permanent. 

Causes of tinnitus include:

  • Long-term exposure to loud noises
  • A period of extreme stress
  • An ear or sinus infection
  • Excess wax build up
  • General hearing loss

Sometimes tinnitus will just go away by itself. Especially if the tinnitus causes are from another health problem that then clears up – like an ear infection or cold. But if you do have permanent tinnitus, try not to worry. There are plenty of ways to manage it and continue to live a comfortable life. 

Is there a link between stress and tinnitus?

Is tinnitus caused by stress

While there’s a proven link between stress and tinnitus, those with high stress levels generally find their tinnitus harder to deal with. 

It’s unclear whether stress can actually cause tinnitus or is just a contributing factor. 

… or is stress caused by tinnitus?

Looking at it from a different angle, having tinnitus can itself be very stressful. 

There are ways to manage tinnitus and the stress caused by it – from cognitive behavioural therapy to hearing aids.

Can I cure my tinnitus?

Currently, there is unfortunately no tinnitus cure. But there are tinnitus treatments available which can reduce the impact of both tinnitus and stress.

Oticon Real hearing aids in hand with carrying case.
  • Hearing aids – when dealing with hearing loss, the tinnitus noises from inside your head can seem louder, because you don’t have as much everyday sound to drown them out! So hearing aids can help as they turn up the volume on the world, making tinnitus less noticeable. Specialised hearing aids can also play white noise, masking the tinnitus.


  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this is a type of talking therapy that can be used for many mental health problems, but is also useful in tinnitus treatment. It helps you deal with the stress that comes with tinnitus. By learning to control the negative feelings surrounding tinnitus, the symptoms can reduce over time. 
  • A good night’s sleep – sleeping well can help reduce the impact of both tinnitus and any associated stress. Cut down on caffeine, stick to a set bedtime, avoid screen time at night, and even try some yoga, meditation or deep breathing to help you relax. 


  • Sound enrichment – this is a type of treatment for tinnitus that uses sound to change your perception of and reaction to the tinnitus you are experiencing. Overtime, your brain should get more used to the tinnitus, and in theory, eventually be able to ignore it all together. 
ACS custom hearing protection on top of an amplifier.
  • Hearing protection – if you work in a loud environment, enjoy attending noisy sports like Formula 1, or love going to concerts and festivals wearing proper hearing protection is crucial. A pair of custom-made earplugs will lower the risk of hearing loss which could make your tinnitus worse. 

See an audiologist

If you’re stressed about tinnitus, our friendly audiologists are here to help. At your appointment, we will be able to discuss tinnitus and stress management techniques with you, and help you get back to enjoying life as usual. 

Book an appointment online or over the phone on 0800 52 00 546 to see a tinnitus expert at your local The Hearing Care Partnership practice