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Is Tinnitus a Cause for Concern?

It's estimated that up to 15 percent of Americans (50 million persons) might be victims of "tinnitus," that eternal whine or ringing in one's ears that won't ever stop

One of the clinical descriptions of tinnitus is “the perception of a sound that’s not objectively measurable."

There is no medical cure for tinnitus nor are there medicines to cure it. The people this affliction victimizes learn to live with it as best as they can without going crazy from hearing a relentless sound every second of every minute of every hour for the rest of their lives.

This sound has been described as a high-pitched tone, a loud whine, a piercing whistling, a clicking, ringing or hiss. Tinnitus can be "heard" in one or both ears or in the head.

Some people even hear music even when nothing is being played, according to Dr. Douglas Hildrew, an otolaryngologist at Yale Medicine.

Doctors claim most tinnitus victims tolerate the affliction well. They also claim tinnitus is only a significant problem for one to two percent of its victims. For these unfortunates, tinnitus causes depression and anxiety, and can interfere with their concentration.

It's thought tinnitus is caused by damaged nerve cells sending wrong information to the brain. This means tinnitus isn't a disease or a medical condition.

Doctors say it's a symptom that signals a problem with our body’s auditory system. The most typical cause of tinnitus is damage to the ear.

“The way your brain basically makes sense of that is fabricating a noise that’s not objectively real, but subjectively is quite real,” said Dr. Hildrew.

The most common cause of tinnitus is noise-induced hearing loss. Other conditions that can cause tinnitus are infections, drugs, migraine headaches, trauma and muscle tightness.

“The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss,” Dr. William Reisacher, an otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine, asserted.

He said tinnitus is best treated by determining the underlying cause, such as obtaining hearing aids for hearing loss. Medication, surgery or other procedures can also be used to address infections or trapped earwax.

“But if no treatment is available, using another sound in the environment, such as natural sounds or white noise, known as ‘masking,’ can help distract a person from listening to their tinnitus in quiet settings,” Dr. Reisacher said.

Article originally appeared on Medical Daily.