Anyone can be affected by tinnitus. People with a history of tinnitus in the family may be more likely to develop it than those without that family history, but everyone has the potential for tinnitus.
- Anyone who smokes is susceptible to blood vessel constriction that leads to tinnitus.
- Anyone who works around loud machinery, or listens to a lot of loud music, without hearing protection can develop tinnitus.
- Anyone experiencing age-related hearing loss is very likely to experience tinnitus.
Inner-ear damage or misfunction can happen to any of us. The important thing is to wear hearing protection and to stay aware of any changes you notice in your hearing.
Who should stay particularly alert for signs of tinnitus?
- People under stress: Stress has long been seen as a contributor to tinnitus.
- People with hearing loss: Anyone diagnosed with hearing loss, particularly, age-related hearing loss, is at risk for tinnitus.
- Motor vehicle accident victims: The exceptionally loud noises, coupled with the physical trauma of such accidents, can result in the type of inner-ear damage that produces tinnitus.
- People with Decreased Sound Tolerance (DST): Anyone showing signs of extreme sensitivity to sound should be evaluated as a candidate for tinnitus treatment techniques.
What is Decreased Sound Tolerance?
While the term “tinnitus” is most often associated with the sort of phantom sounds that accompany discordant dysfunction*, we also include conditions involving sounds that are all too real for certain people. Decreased sound tolerance (DST), often associated with tinnitus, is a general term used to describe lowered tolerance of everyday sounds that most other people find quite tolerable. DST can take two forms:
- Hyperacusis: This is a condition in which an individual finds everyday sounds to be especially intense (e.g., running water or a kitchen appliance). Hyperacusis is treatable with hearing aids and/or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
- Misophonia: For those suffering from this disorder, certain sounds actually result in a highly agitated reaction that can range from simple irritability to outright panic. It is treatable through the use Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
*According to discordant theory, tinnitus is induced by the discordant dysfunction in which cochlea is damaged by excessive noise, drugs exposure or viral infections the outer hair cells (OHC) are damaged first and inner hair cells (IHC) later.