Tinnitus is characterized by persistent ringing in the ears or head. Survey reveals nearly 10 percent of adults in the United States are affected by tinnitus.
Nearly 10 percent of people in the United States experience a persistent ringing in the ears. This annoying ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus and is likely caused by regular exposure to loud noises.
Tinnitus is characterized by the hearing of sound when no actual external sound is present and if this condition continues it interferes with emotions, thinking, hearing, sleep and concentration and may lead to hearing loss.
To estimate how many Americans suffer from tinnitus, researchers analyzed the data from 2007 National Health Interview Survey in which more than 75,000 people had participated. Analysis showed that nearly 1 out of 10 of respondents had experienced the troublesome roaring, buzz or whistling in their ears or head in the past 12 months.
Among those who reported tinnitus, 27 percent had symptoms for more than 15 years while one third of them had almost constant symptoms. Tinnitus was found most common among those who are constantly exposed to loud noises either at work or during their recreational time.
“Noise exposures at work and at home seem to correlate with the prevalence of chronic tinnitus, and accordingly these noise exposures should be addressed and minimized.” Lead researcher Dr. Harrison Lin from University of California, Irvine suspects though the study does not show any direct link between these two.
Analysis further reveals that around 40 percent respondents reported of having this condition much worse at bedtime. However, only 7 percent considered it a big or very big problem compared with 42 percent who said it is a small problem. Only 49 percent respondents had discussed tinnitus with a physician.
Medication was the most common treatment recommended by doctors (45 percent). Hearing aids and tinnitus masking devices were also suggested to many patients while only 0.2 percent of doctors discussed cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT as an option which is a treatment officially recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation for tinnitus. If not cured, the persistent affects of tinnitus could have a negative impact on the quality of life.
“The vast majority of patients with tinnitus will not have a medical-health related complication from tinnitus,” Dr Lin told CBS News. “However, tinnitus can be pathologically irritating and exacerbate mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder and depression. It can result in insomnia, generate destructive trains of thought and emotion and have a subsequently negative impact on a person’s life.”