After going to a concert, I have a ringing in my ear. I never really thought anything of it I just thought it was from the abundance of loud noises at one time and would go away the next day or in a few hours. However, researchers have found that in some cases, the ringing in ears never goes away. There is an estimated 50 million Americans with persistent tinnitus, which is the constant ringing in the ears. This can last for just a few hours or a lifetime, it just depends on the person and the amount of noise they experienced. Until very recently, this information and studies done on this topic have been hidden from the public (this could be victim to the Texas Sharpshooter Problem). However, it is now important for the public to understand this condition, especially in younger Americans, because it can worsen later in life and not to mention having a ringing in your ear constantly is probably very annoying. Imagine hearing that while you’re trying to study or sleep. For a video on how the ear works look here.
Tanit Ganz Sanchez, an otolaryngologist (a ear, nose, and throat doctor) at the University of São Paolo School of Medicine in Brazil conducted a study regarding the dangers behind this condition. She and other researchers surveyed 170 teens and preteens about their listening habits and if they have had an experience with tinnitus, as well as testing their hearing ability and tolerance for louder noises. After studies, all 170 students were found to have healthy inner and outer hair cells in the ears, which meant that they could all hear very normally. In order to study their tolerance, the procedure consisted of the student being placed in sound-proof rooms and playing extremely loud noises until the students said they were uncomfortable. The results of this concluded that half of the students reported having a constant ringing in their ears for a few hours or days, but ⅓ of the students reported having ringing permanently. This meant that they were abnormally sensitive to the loud noises they experience in the study. There has been no research so far as to figure out why certain people have more sensitivity to loud noises than others, especially when all the teens had relatively similar lifestyles in their listening habits.
Overall, I see one major problem with this study which is that the researchers tested directly on the teens. I understand that testing directly on the subjects allows for more confidence in a result, however seeing that the teens suffered permanent consequences from the study seems unethical. Perhaps instead they could have recreated the effects by stimulation or chose a different way to test a person’s tolerance for hearing.