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Characteristics of tinnitus with or without hearing loss: Clinical observations in Sicilian tinnitus patients

  • Autori: Martines, F.; Bentivegna, D.; Martines, E.; Sciacca, V.; Martinciglio, G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2010
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Objective: To analyze the clinical characteristics of tinnitus both in normal hearing subjects and in patients with hearing loss. Methods: The study considered 312 tinnitus sufferers, 176 males and 136 females, ranging from 21 to 83 years of age, who were referred to the Audiology Section of the Department of Bio-technology of Palermo University. The following parameters were considered: age, sex, hearing threshold, tinnitus laterality, tinnitus duration, tinnitus measurements and subjective disturbance caused by tinnitus. The sample was divided into two groups: Group 1 (G1) subjects with normal hearing; Group 2 (G2) subjects with hearing loss. Results: Among the patients considered, 115 have normal hearing while 197 have a hearing deficit. There is a slight predominance of males respect to females that is more evidenced in G2 (61.42% of males vs. 38.58% of females). The highest percentage of tinnitus results in the decades 41–50 for G1 and >70 for G2 with a statistically significant difference between the two groups (P < 0.0001). The hearing impairment results in most cases of sensorineural type (74.62%) and limited to the high frequencies (58.50%), moreover the 72.10% of the patients with SNHL had a high-pitched tinnitus while the 88.37% of the patients high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss had a high-pitched tinnitus (P < 0.0001). As for the subjective discomfort, the catastrophic category resulted most representative among subjects with normal hearing with a statistically significant difference between the two groups but no significant correlation was found between the level of tinnitus intensity and the tinnitus annoyance confirming the possibility that tinnitus discomfort is elicited by a certain degree of psychological distress as anxiety, depression, irritability and phobias that do not allow the phenomenon of the ‘habituation’. Conclusion: This work, according to literature data, suggests that the hearing status and the elderly represent the principal tinnitus related factors; moreover tinnitus characteristics differ in the two groups for tinnitus pitch. There is, in fact, a statistically significant association between high-pitched tinnitus and high-frequency SNHL suggesting that the auditory pathway reorganization induced by hearing loss could be one of the main source of the tinnitus sensation.