Little free time, a lot of homework and always thinking about the upcoming exams: More and more students are suffering from stress - especially now, during the Abitur exams. Studies show that stress symptoms such as irritability, restlessness and fatigue are part of everyday life in a third of children and adolescents. In addition, teachers and educators at schools are also exposed to high levels of stress: Inadequate staff, high levels of responsibility and daily noise in the classrooms can even lead to burnout in some cases.
Whether students or teachers - more and more people affected can only cope with everyday life with great psychophysical effort. This also increases the risk of tinnitus. Because chronic stress can lead to changes in the auditory system and even permanent damage to the hearing cells. But how can schools and parents counteract this? The German Tinnitus Foundation Charité recommends: rest breaks at school, stress reduction and education about the consequences of stress from an early age.
The pressure is high - inside and outside of school
High pressure to perform, packed schedules and, in the worst case, a bad class climate - everyday school life can be really stressful. But children need more breaks, even at school. This was shown, among other things, by the LBS Children's Barometer in January 2015, in which more than half of the children surveyed stated that the school did not offer enough opportunities to relax. The children's association then advised: Parents should closely monitor alarm signs such as irritability, restlessness and psychosomatic symptoms in their children in order to identify risks at an early stage and counteract the stress.
Even now, a year later, this topic is topical: In many federal states, the Abitur exams begin. Some of the students are under a lot of pressure during this time - and not just at school. Because the stress doesn't stop at the school gate. Even outside, many children and adolescents do not find enough time to relax and are often still thinking about exams and school problems. Anxiety, depression and sleep disorders can be consequences - and more and more pupils also suffer from ear noises. According to the German Center for Music Therapy Research in Heidelberg, the number of affected children and adolescents has even been significantly underestimated: Tinnitus occurs in the age group 14 and older as often as in adults. The main reasons for this are noise pollution and stress.
Dr. Wolfgang Steininger from the School Psychological Counseling Center of the Berlin-Lichtenberg district reports: “Children and adolescents often come to us who suffer from the high pressure to perform and some even show initial behavioral problems. Most of them have been exposed to stressful situations for a long time. ”The fact that this stress also continues outside of school becomes clear in his daily work:“ Many pupils do not treat themselves to rest after school. Homework, tutoring, deadline pressure - often ambitious parents are behind it. In addition, there is the social pressure to want to exist in the class community, to be informed about news and to be well networked. After school, many people make up for what they “missed” in the morning. ”Steininger sees the problem primarily in the fact that many children and young people are overwhelmed with their own time management. There is little time for relaxation.
Teaching staff are also at risk
It looks similar in many teachers' rooms. Teaching and educational staff have to fill spontaneous staff gaps and teach too many students at once. Add to that the daily noise in the reverberating school premises and unergonomic working conditions. At least 60% of the school teachers surveyed in a study in 2015 stated that they were able to perceive these burdens clearly and only be able to cope with great psychological and physical exertion.5 Classic symptoms of overwork are irritation, fatigue, physical and emotional exhaustion - and as a result also hearing damage. This describes the Dr. Steininger: “It is not uncommon to see teachers covering their ears because they can no longer stand the noise pollution at school. Have you ever stood in a school corridor when the break bell rings and hundreds of students storm past you through the stairwell? Then you know how loud it can get in a school building. "
Tinnitus and stress
Although stress alone does not directly trigger tinnitus, which can have a relevant influence on the tone in the ear, it has now become a consensus in scientific circles.6 Medical studies, for example, show that tinnitus patients are under stress more often than other ENT patients. In addition, it is often more difficult for those with a psychological background to cope with everyday life with tinnitus. Because those under stress draw attention to the sound of their ears. Prof. Dr. explains how stress can affect ear health. Mazurek, director of the tinnitus center of the Berlin Charité and chairwoman of the board of the German Tinnitus Foundation Charité: “Stress - and especially chronic stress - can play an essential role in the development and consolidation of tinnitus. The increased release of the stress hormone cortisol can trigger changes in the auditory system, which can include damage to nerve and auditory cells. "She therefore recommends that" the treatment of tinnitus should also include stress-reducing methods and therapies. "
The German Tinnitus Foundation Charité demands: create and explain relaxation breaks
In order to prevent stress and consequences such as tinnitus, it is also advisable to take more breaks. Retreats for schoolchildren and teachers on the school grounds and moments of deceleration are particularly recommended. It is crucial to "reduce the level of arousal in children with pedagogical means", summarizes Dr. Steininger together. Stress-reducing methods, relaxation procedures and information about hearing protection should be on the schedule. Noise prevention can already be found in the fourth and ninth grade grades, but far too rarely is the subject actually taught. In addition, psychological support is still crucial to identify the risk of overload and to intervene in good time. Above all, however, awareness of the health hazard from too much stress must be created - even at a young age. Information material on hearing protection, tinnitus and stress can be requested from the German Tinnitus Foundation Charité. (pm)