If you have ever experienced hearing an unexplained ringing, buzzing or humming noise, you are not alone; millions of Americans report bothersome tinnitus each year. New research out of Jordan reports that tinnitus may be worse for those who also experience hearing loss.
The Tinnitus Study
The 2020 study titled “A comparison of the severity of tinnitus in patients with and without hearing loss using the tinnitus functional index (TFI)” compared the severity of tinnitus in patients with and without hearing loss.
The researchers enrolled 73 patients who had visited an audiology clinic in Amman, Jordan. The patients were broken up into two study groups based on their degree of hearing loss. The researchers evaluated the severity of the patients’ tinnitus with the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) questionnaire. Participants were then interviewed and tested with an otoscope examination, pure tone audiometry, and admittance and tinnitus matching.
A statistically significant association was found between hearing status and severity of tinnitus. The researchers found no association between the severity of tinnitus and the age or gender of participants.
The tinnitus ratings for those with normal hearing were:
- Mild annoyance – 50%.
- Significant annoyance – 41%.
- Severe annoyance – 9%.
Those with hearing loss reported the following tinnitus ratings:
- Mild annoyance – 28%.
- Significant annoyance – 31%.
- Severe annoyance – 41%.
What Do These Results Mean?
While the study was small, it does help to further support the link between tinnitus and hearing loss.
Exposure to loud noises can damage the delicate hair cells within the inner ear. These hair cells are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses, which are then sent via the auditory nerve to the brain to be processed as sound. When damaged, not only are these hair cells unable to pass along sound information, but they can also send out misinformation. The hair cells can “leak,” sending incorrect information to the brain about sounds that are not present.
Damage can occur when you stand too close to a speaker at Cain’s Ballroom or listen to your music too loud while out on a walk around Keystone Lake. To learn more about tinnitus or how to protect your ears from damage, contact the experts at Eastern Oklahoma ENT today.