Tinnitus is an auditory perception in the absence of an auditory stimulus. It may be associated with acoustic trauma (e.g., exposure to loud noise), chronic hearing loss, emotional stressors, or spontaneous occurrence. The psychopathological reaction to the perceived auditory stimulus is an enormous source of distress and disability for many patients with tinnitus.
National health surveys estimate that nearly 10 in 100 adults experience some form of tinnitus. Among workers exposed to occupational noise, the prevalence of tinnitus is 15 per 100. Of these, tinnitus is burdensome and chronic for roughly 20 million and extreme and debilitating for 2 million U.S. residents.
Many patients with tinnitus report that the auditory perception impairs sleep, concentration, and cognitive function required for day-to-day functioning. Among the nearly 4.5 million U.S. military veterans receiving service-connected compensation, 42% receive compensation for tinnitus, which makes it the most prevalent service-connected disability.