29.7 million people in the US have tinnitus. This means that nearly one in ten Americans suffers from imaginary noises in their head and ears. These are the findings of the MarkeTrak VIII study, published in the magazine Hearing Review.
Impact on quality of life
Nearly half (45%) of those in the study indicate that their hearing loss has no impact on their life. About 2 in 5 (39%) report that tinnitus affects their ability to hear, around 1 in 4 (26%) say that it affects their ability to concentrate, and 1 in 5 their ability to sleep.
A small minority of subjects (12%) indicate that tinnitus affects their leisure activities, social life, personal relationships, and emotional or mental health. 7% indicate that tinnitus affects their ability to work.
Nearly 4 in 10 people experience their tinnitus more than 80% of the time during a typical day and slightly more than 1 in 4 people describe their tinnitus as loud. About 1 in 5 describes their tinnitus as disabling or nearly disabling.
The average age of people in the US with tinnitus is 57. The tinnitus population size peaks at 7.2 million among people between the ages 55-64. The prevalence of those with tinnitus is 13.9% between the ages of 45 - 54, among people aged between 55 and 64 the figure is 20.6% and for people between ages 65 and 84 years it is as high as 26.7%.
Tinnitus and the use of hearing aids
Nearly 13 million Americans with tinnitus report no hearing loss. Nearly 4 million were current hearing aid owners. This means that 47% of the 8.4 million hearing aid owners in the United States also have tinnitus. Slightly more than 2 of 5 (42.9%) of those with tinnitus are also hearing-impaired, but do not use hearing aids.
The degree of hearing loss and severity of tinnitus are significantly related to the level of tinnitus reduction through hearing aid use. In general, people with milder degrees of tinnitus are more likely to experience mitigation of their tinnitus with hearing aids.
In a direct query of hearing aid efficacy, 27.8 % of hearing aid users reported receiving moderate-to-substantial reduction in their tinnitus when using their hearing aids. About 2 out of 3 people experienced tinnitus relief most-to-all of the time, while 3 out of 10 (29%) reported that the use of hearing aids alleviated their tinnitus all of the time.
The MarkeTrak studies on hearing, hearing loss and the use of hearing aids in the US have been carried out since the early 90s.