Could an underlying hearing loss be a significant factor in the handicap caused by tinnitus?Noise Health. 2009 Jul-Sep; 11(44):156-60.NH
There have been several studies that have demonstrated a link between the hearing loss of subjects and tinnitus. However, there has been no systematic evaluation of the link between perceived tinnitus distress and an underlying hearing loss. The purpose of the current study is to explore this association, and ascertain whether a subject's hearing loss contributes to the handicap caused by tinnitus. A group of 96 adults were evaluated with Pure Tone Audiometry and a questionnaire that included the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). In 58% of the subjects, the side of the unilateral or worse tinnitus corresponded with the ear with poorer hearing thresholds. A subset of the THI, the Two Question Mean (TQM) that was related to questions with regard to communication, correlated significantly with the hearing thresholds in the better hearing ear (P < 0.01). There was also a significant correlation between the THI and TQM scores (P < 0.01). These results suggested that in tinnitus subjects with impaired hearing, the underlying hearing loss may be a significant factor in the perceived distress.