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JAMA Clinical Guidelines Synopsis
May 24/31, 2016

Tinnitus

Author Affiliations
  • 1Section of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Division of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Section of General Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2016;315(20):2221-2222. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5209

Tinnitus is the perception of sound without an acoustic stimulus. Although the pathophysiology is both heterogeneous and incompletely understood, tinnitus is thought to result from abnormal neural activity in response to hearing loss.1 It affects an estimated 50 million US adults.2 Prevalence increases steadily with age and peaks between ages 60 to 69 years.2 Both the severity of the symptom and its effects on quality of life are highly variable; only 20% of patients with persistent tinnitus ever seek medical evaluation.3 Treating tinnitus is challenging as patients become discouraged to learn that despite claims, a scientifically validated medication or cure has yet to be identified. Evaluation and management of tinnitus requires a search for potential causes, counseling against ineffective or potentially harmful treatments, and providing the resources necessary to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

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