Years before they reach retirement age, senior citizens often begin thinking about the “golden years.” And, while they ponder heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and problems with their eyes, one particular disease often escapes their attention: tinnitus.
Tinnitus comes from the Latin word meaning “to ring or tinkle.” It’s a collection of symptoms of the inner ear, that’s often referred to as “ringing in the ears.” While ringing is the most frequently described sound, it can also appear in the form of swooshing, clicking, buzzing or hissing. Some people refer to the sound as music.
According to the Center for Disease Control, tinnitus affects more than 50 million people a year. For most, it’s usually an inconvenient, benign problem. But the physical impact of the disease can cost sufferers more than $30,000 a year in lost wages and health expenses. It costs American society more than $26 billion, annually. According to studies conducted by the United States Veterans Administration, over 970,000 veterans (one of the highest risk groups for contracting tinnitus) received treatment during 2012, at a cost of more than $1.5 billion.