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Definition:  Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, of a fault in the hearing system.  In the absence of an established cure, many individuals are not only challenged with needing to adapt to the sensation of constant sound in the ears or head, but also must adjust to an array of negative consequences that the Tinnitus can create. 

These consequences can manifest emotionally, cognitively, occupationally, socially and physically.  High levels of distress can be experienced in all of these dimensions and contribute to an exacerbation of symptoms and the establishment of a vicious cycle. 

Tinnitus therefore is a neurological condition (involves the brain), an audiological condition (involves the ear) and a condition with a strong psychological component (involves the emotions).

Three Types of Tinnitus:

Subjective:     Only the patient can hear and is the most common

Objective:       Can be heard with stethoscope at site of tinnitus

Pulsatile:        Tinnitus is synchronistic with heartbeat

Causes of Tinnitus:

The exact cause of tinnitus is unknown with the exception of noise exposure (occupational noise, explosions for example)

Other causes could include: neck and head injury, Meniere’s, TMJ, noise-induced hearing loss, presbycusis, acoustic neuromas,

Prevalence of Tinnitus:

Tinnitus increases with age (65-70) and is more common amongst males with noise induced hearing loss

Up to 90% of tinnitus has associated hearing loss

May be unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both)

Perception of sound can be heard ‘in’ the head or in the ears


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