Tinnitus is the perception of any sound in the head or ear(s) with no associated external source. Tinnitus is a common problem, affecting about 50 million people in the United States alone, with about 10 million Americans suffering from more noticeable or severe forms of the condition. The causes of tinnitus can be wide-ranging, including hearing loss, temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, and certain medications, Eustachian tube dysfunction, otosclerosis. Tinnitus is a serious medical condition that can interrupt one’s quality of life and can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.
Some people with tinnitus also have a decreased tolerance to loud sounds, a condition called hyperacusis. A large majority of individuals with tinnitus, about 40%, also note a problem with hyperacusis.
People with tinnitus are encouraged to follow-up with their primary care provider, who in many cases will order an audiologic evaluation to rule out hearing loss and other possible causes.