Researchers at the ENT unit at the Alarcón Foundation Hospital in Madrid, Spain, found a connection between hyperacusis (a hearing condition of hypersensitivity to external and common sounds) and tinnitus in their study among 213 patients in a Tinnitus Unit
The study found that most cases of tinnitus and hyperacusis were associated with hearing loss. 83 percent of the patients were hearing impaired. 17 percent had normal hearing.
Impact on the quality of life
Study participants made a self-evaluation on the impact of tinnitus and hyperacusis on their quality of life. 54 percent of the patients were upset by environmental noise, and 52 percent reported that they felt unable to conduct at least one daily activity due to their noise intolerance. In addition, almost half of the hyperacusis patients with tinnitus reported some degree of disability.
Other factors: Gender and stress
The researchers found that hyperacusis was more likely to occur among women than among men. More than three out of five women in the study suffered from tinnitus and hyperacusis while it occurred in less than two men in five. Other factors seemed to include anxiety and stress, which affected up to 65 percent of tinnitus patients with hyperacusis. Other phobias were present in 15 percent of the cases.
Hyperacusis patients may receive the same treatment as tinnitus patients to alleviate symptoms, for example, the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Some experts considered hypersensitivity to external sounds as a possible pre-tinnitus condition.
Source: â€œEstudio de la hiperacusia en una unidad de acÃºfenosâ€ (â€œHyperacusis Study in a Tinnitus Unitâ€), Acta de OtorrinolaringologÃa EspaÃ±ola 2003; 54: 617-622.