Eggermont (2012) reports it is not easy for people to characterize the sounds of their tinnitus (based on Wahlstrom and Axelsson, 1996). With regard to the presentation of a 4000 Hz pure tone, roughly 34 percent of the listeners described it as a tone while 26 percent referred to it as a hissing sound, 18 percent a roaring sound, and the other 22 percent described it as whistling, squeaking, and more. With regard to presentation of an 8000 Hz pure tone, some 48 percent described it as a rushing sound, 16 percent said it was a beeping sound, 12 percent referred to the 8000 Hz pure tone as a rushing sound, and the others described it as a whistling or squeaking or other sound.
Eggermont notes the perceived severity of tinnitus does not depend solely on loudness, but includes the degree of annoyance and the associated disability from tinnitus. Tinnitus patients often have higher levels of cortisol (arguably secondary to stress) and predictive factors for tinnitus include anxiety disorders and a poor sense of well-being (at tinnitus onset). Eggermont explores the reasons why some 20 percent of people complaining of tinnitus do not report hearing loss. The possible answers include "venous hum" and narrow (undetectable) dead regions in the cochlea, and/or prolonged conductive hearing loss in childhood.
Eggermont reports tinnitus pitch and loudness matching may vary daily in the same patient. He notes chronic pain and chronic tinnitus have many similarities and in both, neural plasticity often leads to hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli. Eggermont states "it is likely that most tinnitus has a central origin…" and he speculates the thalamocortical system may be the primary suspect-of-origin.
Eggermont summarizes "…there is currently no general cure for tinnitus, certainly not using prescriptive drugs, herbal or alternative treatments…" and "..the best way to alleviate tinnitus is…sound therapy provided by well-fitted open-vented hearing aids…" and "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)…may be needed in debilitating tinnitus, potentially combined with sound therapy."
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Baigi A, Oden A, Almlid-Larsen V, Barrenas ML, Holgers, KM.(2011): Tinnitus in the General Population With a Focus on Noise and Stress—A Public Health Study. Ear & Hearing 32(6):787–789.
Beck DL. (2011) Hearing Aid Amplification and Tinnitus:2011. Hearing Journal 64(6):12-14.
Eggermont, JJ (2012): Current Issues in Tinnitus. In Translational Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience. Editors: Tremblay KE, Burkard RF. Plural Publishing.
Henry JA, Zaugg TL, Myers PJ, Kendall CJ. (2012) Progressive Tinnitus Management, NCRAR, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Reviewed/Updated Date: March
Kochkin S, Tyler R, Born J. (2011) MarkeTrak VIII: The Prevalence of Tinnitus in the United States and the Self-Reported Efficacy of Various Treatments. Hearing Review 18(12):10–26
Jacobson G. (2012) Tinnitus Relief- At What Cost? Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23(2):80.
Newman CW, Sandridge SA. (2012) A Comparison of Benefit and Economic Value Between Two Sound Therapy Tinnitus Management Options. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:126–138.
Piskosz M. (2012) The Role of Wireless Streaming in Tinnitus Management. Hearing Review March:12–15.
Sanchez TG, Akemi MA. (2008) Modulating Tinnitus with Visual, Muscular and Tactile Stimulation. Seminars in Hearing, Tinnitus Part Two 29(4).
Stouffer LJ, Tyler RS. (1990) Characterization of Tinnitus by Tinnitus Patients. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders 55:439-453.
Tyler RS, (2012) Patient Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Tinnitus Treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:115–125.
Tyler RS, Haskell GB, Gogel SA, Gehringer AK. (2008) Establishing a Tinnitus Clinic in Your Practice. American Journal of Audiology 17(1):125–37.