We hear figures of up to 20-30% of the population supposedly having tinnitus, but is tinnitus really that prevalent? In this episode, we learn that such data is based on population studies where people are asked questions like “have you heard ringing in your ears for more than 5 minutes in the past year?”. That’s not helpful data. When it comes to finding better treatments, we need to zoom in on chronic, severe tinnitus.

We talk about the need for bigger and better data for tinnitus with Christopher Cederroth, a researcher who focuses on the genetic underpinnings of tinnitus, and David Stockdale, the chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association.

Existing data from biobanks has already taught us a fair bit about tinnitus, for instance that chronic tinnitus tends to be persistent over the years. But we need better tinnitus definitions than the “5 minutes” one, we need larger sample sizes, and higher quality data on for instance hearing profiles. You can take part and contribute your data too!

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Skip to: 00:00 Introducing the topic and guests.

Skip to: 06:32 Chris’ personal experience with tinnitus.

Skip to: 12:05 Links between COVID-19 and tinnitus.

In the UK, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence has recognized tinnitus as a symptom of both COVID and long COVID.

Skip to: 18:58 The function of biobanks.

Skip to: 24:44 What have we learned about tinnitus from existing data?

Skip to: 29:41 Tinnitus for 5 minutes is NOT tinnitus!

Sometimes cohorts ask the question: ‘Have you ever had tinnitus in your life that lasted more than five minutes?

Skip to: 38:11 How tinnitus develops over time.

Skip to: 40:44 The need to focus on chronic, severe tinnitus.

I think even the prevalence of those that have severe tinnitus that is chronic, constant, and severe is even lower than what we think now, and that should be the target population.

Skip to: 52:07 Missing links: patient recruitment, funding, and politics.

Skip to: 58:20 Creating a tinnitus biobank & mobile data collection.

Skip to: 66:17 Why are trials failing? Let’s get the right data.

Skip to: 72:36 Are there sub-types of tinnitus?

So already here we can say, tinnitus with or without hyperacusis, these two groups are different.

Skip to: 80:06 Overcoming challenges through activism.

Discuss on Tinnitus Talk Forum

Or share your thoughts on the episode below!

Comments (6)
  1. Back in 2013, British scientists found a way of restoring auditory nerve damage by injecting embryonic stem cells. They had success in Gerbils (same hearing range as us). Where is this research at today? Any more progress? Have others also been using/trying stem cells for the “rebuild”?

  2. I have chronic tinnitus. It changes tones and intensity on a daily basis. I would like to know if there are any cases that have shown relief after any types of treatments. I need to begin to share my malady with people who have tinnitus and understand the issues it causes in daily life.

  3. I have severe, chronic constant pulsatile tinnitus. Just listened to the podcast and am very happy to take part in any data collection.

  4. In 2012 I applied for tinnitus compensation under the form of LTD with my private insurer here in Canada. The representative that I dealt with moving through short term disability made mention that he was a bit puzzled regarding the amount of people applying for tinnitus compensation within my company Canada wide at that time.

    In short it was a industry that he did not expect this type of complaint to becoming from! If you are curious, I was a camera operator for a major Canadian Television Network.

    Lately here in Canada we have a movement that has caught the attention of the world with our sit in the Nations Capital. One thing among many caught my attention when the media focused on my fellow Canadians who were under siege from constant never ending sounds/noise of the truckers horns. As mean as this may sound, I think those individuals now have a very good idea of what it is like to suffer with severe bi-lateral tinnitus and hyperacusis. Next time you go see your doctor bring a trucker. Perspective… YES.


  5. Use positive focus and do the things that you like to do to draw your attention away from the tinnitus, even if it is only for a short moment here and there.

    Silence, as beautiful of a word that it is, no longer exists. Understand that and work with it as a boxer uses a punching bag. Stay away from negativity and stressful environments. Go for long walks in peaceful places like parks, get a dog so you have company that will actually listen to you without judgement and or lack of understanding.

    Use white noise machines or a fan to help you maintain any form of sleep, have a very understanding spouse and family members that will keep edging you forward with positivity.


  6. ‘Alternatives’ are worth exploring – specifically cranial osteopathy. My ears had whistled from childhood (there is nerve deafness in the family) though it didn’t trouble me. In later years, with hearing declining, the noise got in the way of quiet conversation. I mentioned it casually to a sacro-cranial osteo (Richard Holding) who was treating me for other matters.

    He pressed on my lower back, and the noise stopped immediately! Being of a scientific mindset, I asked if he could turn it on again. He pressed – and back came the noise. One more gentle press, and away it went. Now, some 40 years later, it is still quite low level unless I’ve listened to too much music!

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