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Tinnitus a nagging issue for students under stress

Lex Dominiak, 36, in Applied Planning at Langara, studies in the library on Oct. 14. Photo by Sean Hitrec.

Reported by Sean Hitrec

As the stress of midterms and term papers increase, some students may experience a ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus.

Tinnitus is often perceived as a variety of audible sounds, such as ringing, a tone, or ocean and nature sounds.

Generated in the head, the causes of the condition are varied.

Up to 15 per cent of the population reports having tinnitus at least once a week.

The severity and whether the sounds are constant or permanent can vary.

Stress a cause for some students’ ringing

For Ravneet Singh, an accounting student at Langara, the ringing starts when he feels stressed.

“There is a bit of an audible sound in my ears when I get stressed out and it doesn’t let me concentrate,” Singh said. “When I hear it, I get kind of annoyed and I can’t concentrate on anything. I wanna sleep and I don’t wanna do any activity after I hear those sounds.”

Chris Gibson, a sociology and philosophy student at Langara, also gets a ringing in his ears when under stress.

“I’ve always had a problem hearing in class and sometimes the ringing just distracts me from paying [attention] to my teacher, ” Gibson said.

Different ways to treat tinnitus

But there is hope for students like Gibson and Singh. A registered audiologist and hearing instrument practitioner at the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Elissa Robb, suggested different ways of treating and dealing with tinnitus. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to manage it.

“I think the thing to do, and it’s so much easier said than done, is to not focus on it. Or not let it be the front and centre when you have it,” Robb said.

Robb suggested something called tinnitus retraining therapy, which trains your brain to ignore the tinnitus.

For those who experience tinnitus and who want to know more about it, Robb suggested visiting The Tinnitus Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital.

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