Our new publication in the MarkeTrak VIII series: The Prevalence of Tinnitus and Efficacy of Treatments (November, 2011 HR) is now available for download. This study was co-authored by Dr. Richard Tyler (University of Iowa) and Jennifer Born (American Tinnitus Association). The key findings are as follows:
Prevalence: Approximately 10% (30 million) of the U.S. population have persistent tinnitus while 50% of people with hearing loss experience tinnitus. We found 13 million people who reported they have tinnitus but they were not aware of their hearing loss; it is generally recognized that most people with tinnitus have hearing loss. Thus, the hearing loss population is much larger than previously thought.
Hearing loss population: A recent John Hopkins study quantified the hearing loss population at 48 million (>25dB loss in one or both ears). MarkeTrak VIII quantified the populated of people who were aware of their hearing loss at 34.3. million; including the 13 million people with tinnitus not aware of hearing loss we come up with a similar number at 47.3 million people with hearing loss.
Efficacy of treatments: In assessing the efficacy of nine treatments no one method was tried by more than 7% of people with tinnitus. The most effective methods for mitigating tinnitus were (median mitigation): hearing aids (34%), music (30%), and relaxation techniques (10%).
Impact of hearing aids: In directly querying hearing aid users on the impact of their hearing aids on tinnitus 46% reported mild to moderate mitigation of their tinnitus with hearing aids, 3 out of 10 report moderate-substantial relief; 67% of those who use hearing aids and report mitigation of tinnitus indicated that their tinnitus was lessened "most of the time" to "all of the time" and 3 out of 10 reported their tinnitus was completely mitigated while wearing their hearing aid and a small minority (3.4%) even when they took their hearing aid off.
Best practices: hearing healthcare professionals with "best practices" in fitting hearing aids can nearly double the rate of efficacy of hearing aids in mitigating the effects of tinnitus.
Promotion of tinnitus management: From MarkeTrak VII we learned that 40% of people with untreated hearing loss choose not to visit a hearing healthcare professional because they have tinnitus, and thus also ignore treatment of their hearing loss. We believe that providing tinnitus management services is a huge opportunity for hearing healthcare professionals.
Hearing healthcare professionals who are skilled in the treatment and management of tinnitus should promote their ability to help potential tinnitus patients manage their tinnitus. To this end the BHI is promoting hearing aids as an effective method for some people in managing tinnitus in our latest press release.
We have also created a tinnitus resource section for hearing healthcare professionals offering: a consumer guide to tinnitus, select publications including how to set up a tinnitus clinic, and a media fact sheet on tinnitus. In addition, we have collected some media clippings on how HHP's are promoting tinnitus management in their clinics (more to follow).
People may not come into your practice for hearing loss, especially those with mild hearing loss. But, they just might come to your practice if you can offer them hope in managing their tinnitus.