Tinnitus is a sensation of sound in your ears without any outside noise creating the sound. Although ringing in one or both ears is the most common symptom, you can also hear other sounds.
Tinnitus is a very common condition. A 2016 study estimated that around 10 percent of U.S. adults (about 21 million people) experienced tinnitus in the previous year, and 27 percent of these people had tinnitus for longer than 15 years. Since it’s so widespread, you may be wondering if is there is a “tinnitus gene.” The answer is: Yes, and there’s possibly more than one. However, the genetic link is just one piece of the whole puzzle.
Read on to learn about different causes of tinnitus and what you can do to prevent it.
For a long time, researchers have thought that tinnitus is caused by damage to a part of your ear. Many doctors would tell people that their tinnitus was a symptom of hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise or other causes. However, new research suggests that tinnitus is not always connected to hearing loss. On top of that, some people may inherit this condition from their parents. Let’s see what the data says.
Type of tinnitus and gender
In one study, researchers discovered that some forms of tinnitus can be hereditary. They made this conclusion after studying multiple sets of identical twins in Sweden who were split up in groups based on their gender and the type of tinnitus they had. To their surprise, when analyzing men who had tinnitus in both ears (bilateral tinnitus), scientists saw the same condition in both twins in the majority of the pairs. This means that their condition developed because of genetic makeup, which is identical in twins.
Researchers also saw the hereditary link only in men and only in people with bilateral tinnitus. This means that different kinds of tinnitus have different causes, and these causes can be different depending on your gender.
Taking it a step further, a European study uncovered a link between tinnitus and eight different genes. This was a genome-wide association study (GWAS), in which researchers collected DNA from over 170,000 people and searched for the most-often occurring gene variants. As a result, eight gene variants showed up among people with tinnitus, but not in people who don’t have this condition. The study also found that these genes were associated with hearing loss, so it’s difficult to tell whether they may cause tinnitus directly or may cause hearing loss, which then leads …….