What is tinnitus? It is a sound that classically sounds like ringing in the ears but for some, it can also sound like a roaring, whooshing, humming, buzzing, and more. It is a sound that is only perceived by the affected individual itself while there is no external sound audible to others around the afflicted person. It affects 10-15% of the population worldwide and as many as 50 million Americans. Although it is an issue that mostly affects those with increasing age (over the age of 50), it can also affect children and adolescents as well. Although most of those affected have adapted and are able to function normally, there are also a small portion of patients who are severely affected to the point where their daily lives are disrupted. This means that they often need off days from work and school. Other symptoms associated with tinnitus are dizziness, anxiety, depression, poor concentration, inferior performance at school or work, and more. There is also an increasing incidence of tinnitus over the years.

In the last two decades, performing a search on the word “tinnitus” in the online medical platform where journals are archived (PubMed), the word tinnitus would generate a result of 150 references available. By the year 2012, the number has increased to 641. This means that the researchers and scientists have taken more interest in tinnitus which also translates to the increasing incidence of tinnitus. In fact, the prevalence has increased from 15% in 1995 to 23.5% in 2010. This makes it much more common issue compared to asthma, blindness, deafness, and even Alzheimer’s!

 

Numbers and Facts About Tinnitus Around The World

A study conducted among 170 adolescents, 93 (54.7%) were fount to have experienced tinnitus. Out of this group. 51.1% have associated it to exposure to loud music. This particular study made the observation that there was a higher prevalence among adolescents compared to other age groups. However, in the affected adolescents, there were little to no discomfort in this population group which led them not to tell their parents or to seek medical help. Although it may seem trivial. In the term “epidemics”, this is a fertile ground for the proliferation of tinnitus. Children and adolescents are the future of our world and those affected by tinnitus are very much more likely to be susceptible to more damage in the future. The recommendation is that this specific group should be assessed more frequently and carefully as they may represent an earlier-onset hearing loss compare with their peers and other generations.

 

What Can Be Done About the Tinnitus Epidemic?

Tinnitus has always been a problem. It is considered to be an old issue that has no standardized cure for all those afflicted by it. For those interested in a new approach for this issue, it has been suggested that:


Protocol

A well-defined protocol should exist for both medical, audiological, and psychological investigation and intervention to determine if the underlying cause of tinnitus can help in the categorization of different subtypes of tinnitus and how care can be provided for these different groups.


Translation

The protocol should be translated and made accessible to all counties in their own language as a tool that can be used to aid in scientific research.


Skilled professionals

There should be a list of associations, centers, and physicians made that can provide specialized care for patients who suffer from tinnitus. Interdisciplinary professionals may also be needed such as having an audiologist and psychologist on the team could prove to be helpful as well. These teams should be readily available in the public health system, health insurance providers, and private medical centers in all major cities.


Conferences

Conferences should be organized at least annually so professionals can share their experiences, thoughts, opinions, and have the opportunity to learn from one another at all major otolaryngology conferences.


Continuous medical education

Online courses, local courses, and meetings on tinnitus at all local conferences should be made known in order to be able to provide the best quality of care to patients.


International events

International events such as The International Tinnitus Seminar which is an event that is held once every three years since 1981 and the Tinnitus Research Initiative is an opportunity for all professionals involved to update their knowledge and share their new-found findings regarding tinnitus. This not only improves the standard of care delivered to patients, but also increases the quality of care the patient experience.

 

Tinnitus Has No Cure

Despite current literature and evidence that has shown that there is no cure for tinnitus, this is still a true statement as the word “cure” means to completely resolve the issue experienced 100%. This is not isolated to tinnitus alone as there are many other diseases that do not have a definitive cure that works 100%. Although there may be no “cure” for tinnitus, this does not mean that there is nothing that can be done for patients who are severely affected by it. There are several treatment options available that have been tested and proven to be effective in some patients but not in all patients. These different methods have higher efficiency rates when applied to specific groups of patients with tinnitus. Otolaryngologists and other professionals involved have accepted the challenge that patients with tinnitus should try several different treatment options before deciding which method works best for them. Some methods can alleviate tinnitus by 20%, 50%, 80% while certain surgical cases may have total alleviation of symptoms if the underlying issue is of a surgical origin.

 

Conclusion On The Tinnitus Epidemic Around The World

Tinnitus is still yet to be fully understood and its mysteries are yet to be unraveled. All of the above aspects that explained the increase of prevalence in tinnitus due to age of modernization includes factors such as increased electromagnetic waves, unhealthy diet, unhealthy lifestyle, increased stress levels will still remain in the future. It is therefore no surprise that out future generation has already succumbed or are affected by tinnitus. This is a pressing issue as there is a high possibility that the net generation after the children will be in more need of out help for prevention and treatment.