Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of sound in the absence of any external auditory stimulus. It can range from a mild annoyance to a debilitating condition that significantly impacts a person’s quality of life.
While the exact causes of tinnitus are still being researched, studies have consistently demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and the worsening of tinnitus symptoms.
The aim of this article is to delve into the evidence from various studies, highlighting the connection between hearing loss and tinnitus exacerbation.
In 2011 a study conducted by Schaette and McAlpine was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, in which the researchers explored the relationship between tinnitus pitch and hearing sensitivity.
The study involved 74 participants with tinnitus and normal hearing, and the results revealed that individuals with higher hearing thresholds exhibited higher tinnitus pitch matching frequencies. This suggests that the presence of hearing loss contributes to the perception of tinnitus.
The researchers proposed that the mechanisms responsible for tinnitus may involve compensatory processes in the auditory system, where damaged or missing sound input leads to increased neural activity, resulting in the perception of phantom sounds.
Their aim to shed light on the mechanisms underlying tinnitus and its association with hearing loss was firmly established.
The study provides empirical evidence linking hearing loss to the exacerbation of tinnitus symptoms.
Another study in 2012 was published in the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, Tyler et al. (2012) investigating the relationship between tinnitus pitch and the audiogram.
The researchers aimed to determine whether specific audiogram configurations were associated with certain tinnitus characteristics, including pitch. The study included 355 participants with tinnitus and hearing loss.
The findings of the study revealed a significant association between the audiogram configuration and tinnitus pitch. Specifically, participants with greater hearing loss at specific frequencies demonstrated tinnitus that matched the pitch of those frequencies. This suggests that hearing loss can influence the perception of tinnitus pitch, further emphasizing the connection between the two.
The overall body of work also emphasized and included the importance of considering hearing loss management in the treatment of tinnitus. Addressing hearing loss through appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids or other hearing devices, may alleviate tinnitus symptoms by improving auditory input and reducing the compensatory neural activity associated with tinnitus.
A study conducted by Goman et al. (2017) and published in the American Journal of Audiology focused on hearing loss and tinnitus among military service members and veterans. The researchers aimed to investigate the prevalence of tinnitus in this population and its relationship with hearing loss. The study analyzed data from over 1,600 participants.
The results demonstrated a high prevalence of both hearing loss and tinnitus among military service members and veterans. Importantly, the study found that hearing loss severity was significantly associated with increased tinnitus severity.
Participants with more severe tinnitus reported higher levels of disability and negative emotional effects. The study underscores the impact of hearing loss on tinnitus severity and highlights the need for comprehensive hearing healthcare, particularly in individuals exposed to occupational noise.
The evidence from a variety of studies supports the connection between hearing loss and the worsening of tinnitus symptoms. Research indicates that individuals with higher hearing thresholds tend to experience higher tinnitus pitch matching frequencies.
Additionally, specific configurations in the audiogram have been found to be associated with certain tinnitus characteristics.
These findings suggest that addressing hearing loss through appropriate interventions can play a crucial role in managing tinnitus.
The prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus in military service members and veterans further emphasizes the relationship between these two conditions.
The severity of hearing loss has been shown to correlate with increased tinnitus severity, indicating a need for comprehensive hearing healthcare in high-risk populations.
By understanding the link between hearing loss and tinnitus, healthcare professionals can provide effective interventions and support for individuals experiencing these conditions, thereby improving their quality of life.
If you are suffering symptoms of tinnitus or even generalized hearing loss whether they be mild or moderate, give us a call. We are here to guide you to better hearing health.