Home Health How Common Is Tinnitus?

How Common Is Tinnitus?

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Tinnitus is a condition where a person hears a ringing, clicking, hissing or sometimes even music in their ears, when no such sound actually exists. In other words, only the patient suffering from Tinnitus is able to hear these noises. Even a doctor who examines their ears or people seated right next to them will not be able to hear such noises. When Tinnitus is heard in only one ear, it is called unilateral Tinnitus. When it is in both ears, it is called bilateral Tinnitus. There are cases where even a doctor or people close to the person can hear the ringing or whooshing sounds a patient hears. In such cases, it is called objective Tinnitus. When Tinnitus can only be heard by the patient, it is called subjective Tinnitus.

Otherwise known as ringing in the ears, Tinnitus is a very common condition. Around 50 Million Americans are affected by Tinnitus every year. For most people, Tinnitus can be temporary in nature, resolving in just hours or days. But, for many, it can also be more permanent in nature, lasting weeks, months, years, decades or even an entire lifetime. A recent 2021 survey suggested that 1 in every 7 Europeans experience Tinnitus. 

Why is Tinnitus on the increase?

There are two major reasons that could explain why Tinnitus is on the rise. First of all is the fact that the pandemic has increased stress and anxiety levels across the world. Tinnitus is a condition that has shown itself exacerbating when stress and anxiety increases. Home quarantining, financial troubles and people not being able to socialize has tremendously increased stress levels across the world, even in Western countries. Internet searches for Tinnitus have more than quadrupled since the pandemic began in 2020.

Another very obvious reason that can explain the increase of Tinnitus is the use of in-ear headphones. Earbuds or headphones that directly protrude into the ear canal can mean that noise levels increase by as many as 10 dB. And, with people having a growing liking for very loud music, damage delivered by these earbuds is usually quite significant. Loud noise damage delivered by earbuds is also permanent in nature. When the human ear is exposed to loud noises in excess of 85 dB, cell death happens. The ear has thousands of hair-like cells. The function of these cells is to move and vibrate or dance to incoming sound waves. These movements are then translated into electrical signals by chemicals in the body. Electrical signals are then processed by the brain’s auditory nerve. Excessive loud noise can cause these hair-like cells to die. Such a death is permanent, although recent scientific research has shown that stem cell therapy has the possibility of regenerating even these dead hair like cells. 

So, if you don’t want to become a Tinnitus statistic these days, there’s two things you need to do. One is to keep your stress, anxiety and worries to a bare minimum. The second is to turn down that music and definitely ditch those earbuds for headphones you wear over your head.