Tinnitus is the experience of noise without external stimulation and is thought to represent a phantom sensation. It is estimated that as many as 60 million individuals in the United States experience tinnitus.1 Tinnitus is related to loud noise exposure and other forms of acoustic trauma, hearing loss, and aging. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the 2 most common disabilities among recently discharged military personnel. A significant number of people with tinnitus experience the phantom noise but are not bothered enough to seek treatment. On the other hand, distressed patients experience myriad bothersome symptoms that may include disruptions in attention, concentration, perception, and emotions, each of which can significantly decrease functional status and quality of life. Recent neuroimaging research findings2 suggest that the maintenance of tinnitus and its effects on various important functions are related to the degree of dysfunction in one or more cortical neural networks.
Piccirillo JF. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Chronic Tinnitus. JAMA. 2016;315(5):506-507. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0075