Tinnitus: When the Ears Ring

Joshua J. Pray; W. Steven Pray

US Pharmacist. 2005;30(6) 

In This Article

Spectrum of Tinnitus Severity

Like most medical conditions, in terms of severity, tinnitus exists along a continuum.[5] The majority of patients are not bothered by it when they are surrounded by the usual sounds of living: people talking, music, air conditioning, and so on.[1] However, when the individual enters an unusually quiet location, such as a library, tinnitus is immediately noticeable. Because it does not bother them in normal living situations, most do not seek medical care.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are those for whom tinnitus is more severe. Six percent of adults consider themselves incapacitated by tinnitus.[3] Approximately 10 million require medical consultation for tinnitus that interferes with their lives to some degree, perhaps causing loss of sleep or reduced ability to concentrate while working or reading.[1,5] In the worst cases, tinnitus wreaks havoc, causing significant depression in 40% of cases; tinnitus that manifests as a continuous and unbearably loud sound has led a few patients to commit suicide.[1,4]

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