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Reports of tinnitus, or “ringing in the ears,” are on the rise with 25 million U.S. adults estimated to have the condition. More than 26,000 cases of tinnitus have been reported following COVID-19 vaccination since 2021 alonehelping it become one of the country’s most common health problems.

Although tinnitus is not a new phenomenon, there are no approved pharmacological treatments leading some resigned to the belief they may never experience silence again. Yet research, largely ignored by public health agencies, suggests therapeutic alternatives may help people with the debilitating condition.

What is Tinnitus? 

Tinnitus is a perception of sound without an external source, meaning it’s a sound that other people cannot hear. Although it is commonly described as “ringing in the ears,” people with tinnitus may hear roaring, whooshing, hissing, humming, or buzzing in one ear or both, and the noise can be soft or loud, low- or high-pitched, and sporadic or continuously present. These phantom sounds aren’t actually caused by the ear but are generated by the part of the brain that processes sound called the auditory cortex.

Tinnitus can have numerous causes, such as Ménière’s disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, heavy metal toxicity, tumors, jaw problems, noise exposure, hearing loss, and medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, certain antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, and vaccinations. 

The condition can resolve suddenly or become chronic, which may lead to other symptoms such as sleep deprivation, difficulty concentrating, psychological distress, and depression.
Since there are currently no mainstream treatments or cure for tinnitus, medicines such as sedatives, antihistamines, antidepressants, local anesthetics, and antipsychotics are commonly prescribed for treatment. 

Study Shows Low Level Light Therapy May Resolve Tinnitus 

A first-of-its-kind study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine suggests people with tinnitus may find relief from low-level infrared light therapy (LLLT). 

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