Hearing Health Blog

Woman holding her head from ringing in the ears and looking depressed.

As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only difficulty. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. Sadly, for some, tinnitus can result in depression.

According to a study conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.

What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?

In order to establish any kind of connection between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (large sample sizes are needed to produce reliable, scientific results).

Here are some of the results:

  • 22.5% of the respondents reported experiencing tinnitus.
  • Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
  • 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
  • Just 2.1% of respondents reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.

The differences in suicide rates between men and women are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the heightened dangers for women. These results also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of people experience relief by using hearing aids.

Are These Findings Universal?

Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.

What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?

While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.

Some things to take note of:

Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”

First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was far more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.

Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed

Perhaps the next most surprising conclusion in this research is that relatively few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.

This is possibly the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. Here are a few of the numerous benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:

  • Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
  • Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
  • Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.

Tinnitus And Hearing Loss

It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.

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References

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2732497

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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