Tinitus and Management
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any external stimulus. Symptoms can be unilateral or bilateral, present with or without hearing loss, and resemble ringing, hissing, whistling, humming, buzzing, chirping, or clicking sounds. Tinnitus can be categorized qualitatively as nonpulsatile (typically subjective) or pulsatile (often objective). Subjective nonpulsatile tinnitus is the most common and is only heard by the patient, whereas objective pulsatile tinnitus can sometimes be heard by an observer and is caused by an internal bodily vibration or noise. In Canada, 41% of those aged 3 to 79 years will experience tinnitus at least once in their lifetimes. Higher 1-year prevalence is associated with increased age (peaking between ages 60 and 69), body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater, smoking (former and current), diabetes mellitus, and hypertension.3 Moreover, tinnitus-related disability claims are among the largest submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Specific compensation guidelines exist for both Veterans Affairs Canada and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and require a tinnitus diagnosis to be made by an audiologist or otolaryngologist.