Silence may lead to phantom noises misinterpreted as tinnitus

Jan 01, 2008

Phantom noises, that mimic ringing in the ears associated with tinnitus, can be experienced by people with normal hearing in quiet situations, according to new research published in the January 2008 edition of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

The Brazilian study, which consisted of 66 people with normal hearing and no tinnitus, found that among subjects placed in a quiet environment where they were asked to focus on their hearing senses, 68 percent experienced phantom ringing noises similar to that of tinnitus.

This is compared to only 45.5 percent of participants who heard phantom ringing when asked to focus on visual stimuli and not on their hearing, and 19.7 percent of those asked to focus on a task in a quiet environment.

The authors believe that these findings show that with regards to tinnitus, the role of attention to symptoms, as well as silence, plays a large role in experience and severity.

Tinnitus, an auditory perception that cannot be attributed to an external source, affects at least 36 million Americans on some level, with at least seven million experiencing it so severely that it interferes with daily activities. The disorder is most often caused by damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear, although it can also be attributed to allergies, high or low blood pressure (blood circulation problems), a tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, injury to the head or neck, and use of medications such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, sedatives, antidepressants, and aspirin.

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

Explore further: Outcomes of lung transplantations since implementation of need-based allocation system

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US must respond to global health outbreaks, say bioethicists

8 hours ago

Last summer, West Africa fell into the grip of a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has thus far taken the lives of more than 9,500 people. The fear swept up by the epidemic quickly jumped across the Atlantic and landed in the ...

Uganda on defensive over medical 'brain drain' uproar

Mar 03, 2015

Uganda's government on Tuesday hit back at mounting criticism of plans to 'export' over 200 health workers to the Caribbean, insisting it was only seeking to regulate an existing labour market and prevent abuses.

Seth Mnookin on vaccination and public health

Mar 02, 2015

Seth Mnookin, an assistant professor of science writing and associate director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing, is the author of "The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy" ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.