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Clinical Factors of Tinnitus Influence Perceived Loudness and Annoyance

n particular, higher levels of severity were found in men, older adults, binaural [in both ears] and centrally perceived tinnitus, increase in tinnitus intensity since onset, sensitivity to loud external noise, continuous tinnitus (as opposed to intermittent tinnitus) and the coexistence of hearing loss, vertigo and hyperacusis [abnormal sensitivity to sounds],” the authors note. However, other factors had an inconsistent influence on loudness and annoyance. The share of individuals who experienced an increase in tinnitus loudness since onset was 35 percent whereas there was no clear increase in tinnitus annoyance in years since onset. The authors believe it is possible that habituation and acceptance of tinnitus increase over time, which is likely to lead to reduced annoyance.

“Although it has been shown that personal distress due to tinnitus is to some degree dependent on primarily psychological factors such as cognitive appraisal or differences in coping behavior, the role of physical, audiologic and medical properties of tinnitus should not be underestimated,” the authors conclude. “We need studies that investigate the determinants of tinnitus loudness and annoyance to understand more deeply how patients react to their tinnitus and which factors contribute to the long-term maintenance of distress.”

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