John P. Preece, PhD, Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.
Richard S. Tyler, PhD, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.
William Noble, PhD, School of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.
Hearing loss in the elderly is a frequently acknowledged problem. Prevalence of hearing loss clearly increases with age, to as high as 50% of persons older than 70 years. Less recognised is an often-related problem, tinnitus. We are concerned here about pathological tinnitus: that which lasts more than five minutes more than once a week. In this article we review the prevalence of tinnitus as a function of age, and its causes and mechanisms. We also describe problems commonly associated with chronic tinnitus and some treatment options. We conclude with some special considerations for the elderly patient.
Key words: tinnitus, prevalence, counseling, sound therapy.