Tinnitus Numbers, Etiology and Pharmaceuticals
Bauer and Brozoski (2008) report tinnitus treatments date back to 2000 BC.Treatments at that time included infusion with oil, frankincense, tree sap, herbs and soil.
Although some 30 million Americans are thought to have tinnitus, it is "disturbing" to only 3-5 percent of those with tinnitus. The authors report that according to the Medical Research Council, only 1 percent report tinnitus severely impacts their quality of life and 0.5 percent report tinnitus as prohibiting a normal life.
Bauer and Brozoski report tinnitus is most often associated with injury or dysfunction of the auditory system. Although some 10 percent of tinnitus sufferers have normal age-adjusted hearing, most tinnitus does happen within the context of hearing loss. Further, 20 percent of people with profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) do not have tinnitus, and 30 to 50 percent of people with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) do not experience tinnitus.
Nearly half of all tinnitus sufferers do not have an identifiable onset point for their tinnitus. However, for those with an onset point, it is most often noise exposure (42 percent) such as gunfire, fireworks, or an air blast.
The authors state in general, any decrease in external sound perception allows an increase of internal sound perception (i.e., tinnitus). Tinnitus is frequently associated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Many prescription-based pharmaceuticals have been used to attempt to reduce the perception of tinnitus; anesthetics, anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, anti-depressants etc. To date, there is no single drug that works consistently from patient-to-patient, across all types and percepts of tinnitus. The failure to identify one consistently useful anti-tinnitus drug is likely due to the multiple etiologies and pathways involved in the perception of tinnitus. Bauer and Brozoski report "considerable evidence indicates that tinnitus is a heterogeneous disorder with various pathological features."
For More Information, References and Recommendations:
Bauer, CA., Brozoski, TJ. (2008): Tinnitus Assessment and Treatment: Integrating Clinical Experience with the Basic Science of Tinnitus. In Seminars in Hearing, Tinnitus Part Two., Vol 29, No 4, November 2008. Guest Editors; Salvi, Wei Sun and Lobarinas. Published by Thieme.