A Brazilian study has shed more light on tinnitus, by finding that phantom noises, which are often misinterpreted as tinnitus, can be experienced by people with normal hearing in silent situations.
Tinnitus is an auditory perception that cannot be attributed to an external source.
For the study, researchers at the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, examined 66 people with normal hearing and no tinnitus.
They found that among subjects placed in a quiet environment where they were asked to focus on their hearing senses, 68 percent experienced phantom ringing noises similar to that of tinnitus.
This is compared to only 45.5 percent of participants who heard phantom ringing when asked to focus on visual stimuli and not on their hearing, and 19.7 percent of those asked to focus on a task in a quiet environment.
According to the researchers, these findings show that with regards to tinnitus, the role of attention to symptoms, as well as silence, plays a significant role in experience and severity.
The study is published in the January 2008 edition of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.