Have you ever heard a ringing, buzzing, or other noises in your ears? If you do, you are not alone. These sounds are often called tinnitus.

Bhatt (2018) administered a survey to 678 college students and found that 59.3 percent of the surveyed population experienced tinnitus, with 8.4 percent of those who responded to the survey experiencing chronic tinnitus. Not only did Bhatt discover that tinnitus is a relatively common phenomenon amongst college students, but also that there were significant risk factors that may contribute to experiencing tinnitus. Some of these factors included smoking, noise exposure, and stress. In addition to the factors that can predispose a person to experiencing tinnitus, there were also some identified factors that were found to increase the handicap created by tinnitus. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia may all increase the effect that tinnitus has on one’s life.

But why is this more applicable to college students than the general population? One word: Stress! Stress is highly correlated with the perception of bothersome tinnitus, and college students seem to have a lot of it! Large numbers of studies have measured the psychological distress rate among students in higher education, and results have been astonishing (Stallman, 2010; Dyrbye et al., 2006; Humphris et al., 2002; Nerdrum et al., 2006; & Verger et al., 2009). Stallman (2010) found that students enrolled in higher education experience statistically significantly more stress than the general population, likely due to the increased level of academic and financial stressors.

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy ways that students can manage stress and tinnitus, some even found right here at Illinois State University! For those experiencing tinnitus, there are a multitude of excellent sound therapy options available, many of which can be found on the American Tinnitus Association’s website: www.ata.org/sites/default/files/SoundTherapy_Apps_Page.pdf.

Want to practice managing your overall stress levels? Programs offered by the University, like Redbirds Keep Thriving and Welltrack, may be a good option for you! If you require additional support in managing your tinnitus, please contact the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic by phone at (309) 438-8641 or by email at speechhearingclinic@IllinoisState.edu .