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Tinnitus drives its sufferers to distraction, it is a phantom sound (ringing of the ears) that affects quality of life for millions around the world (estimated 2%) and is associated in most cases with hearing impairment. Regardless of the original cause, all patients complain of hearing a tinnitus tone on either one (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the head or ears. Depending on the case, tinnitus tone may have low, medium or high frequency and be either relatively quiet (0–3 dB), going up to relatively loud (more than 16 dB). Some studies indicate that tinnitus on the left is more consequential than that on the right.

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