What is Tinnitus and How Many People Have It?
Tinnitus is the term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. Its’ perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TINNITUS?
50 million Americans experience this issue to some degree. Of these, about 12 million experience it enough to seek medical attention. Of those, about two million patients are so seriously debilitated they cannot function on a “normal,” day-to-day basis.
In general, there are two types of tinnitus:
Subjective: Head or ear noises that are perceivable only to the specific patient. Subjective tinnitus is usually traceable to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, but can also be caused by an array of other catalysts. More than 99% of all tinnitus reported tinnitus cases are of the subjective variety.
Objective: Head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare, representing less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.
It is not a disease in-and-of-itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying health issue. While tinnitus is a symptom of a wide range of conditions, it is most frequently the result of some level of hearing loss. There is currently no scientifically-validated cure. There are, however, treatment options that can ease the perceived burden, allowing patients to live more comfortable, productive lives. ATA is leading the charge in the ongoing search for a definitive cure.”