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Tinnitus Therapy and Open Ear Hearing Aid Fittings 

With regard to the use of hearing aids across multiple tinnitus therapy programs, Beck (2011a) noted that "...until outcomes/evidence-based studies are available with regard to advanced hearing aids and tinnitus patients, we must proceed with the utmost caution as we endeavor to assist people suffering from significant tinnitus, while being mindful of the likely benefits available through advanced hearing aid amplification."

Fortunately, Parazzini et al have just published their study of 91 adult patients with tinnitus who were treated with tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) and either sound generators (SG) or open-ear hearing aids (HAs). Study participants presented with hearing loss equal to or less than 25 dB at 2000 Hz and with hearing loss equal to or greater than 25 dB above 2000 Hz (between Categories I and II in the Jastreboff classification system), all of whom have had tinnitus for at least six months, did not have ear disease, had not been previously treated with TRT, and had not previously worn hearing aids. The tinnitus handicap inventory (THI), by Newman, Jacobson and Spitzer (1996) was used to measure tinnitus at 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.

Parazzini et al determined statistically that TRT was equally effective in tandem with sound generators and open ear hearing aids and importantly, the net improvement from both instruments (SG and HAs) were identical and indistinguishable. Thus, for the patient population tested, they concluded TRT with sound therapy is an effective treatment for tinnitus. However, the specific sound therapy instrument used (SG or HA) does not make a significant difference in the studied population.

References and Recommendations

Aazh H, Moore BCJ, and Roberts P. (2009) Patient-Centered Tinnitus Management Tool: A Clinical Audit. American Journal of Audiology (18):7-13.

Bauer CA, Brozoski TJ. (2008) Tinnitus Assessment and Treatment: Integrating Clinical Experience with the Basic Science of Tinnitus. Seminars in Hearing, Tinnitus Part Two 29(4).

Beck, DL (2011a) : Hearing Aid Amplification and Tinnitus - 2011 Overview. Hearing Journal 64(6):12-14.

Parazzini M, Del Bo L, Jastreboff M, Tognola G, Ravazzani P. (2011) Open Ear Hearing Aids In Tinnitus Therapy - An Efficacy Comparison with Sound Generators. International Journal of Audiology 50:548-553.

Sanchez TG, Akemi MA. (2008) Modulating Tinnitus with Visual, Muscular and Tactile Stimulation. Seminars in Hearing, Tinnitus Part Two 29(4).