A very common complaint among tinnitus patients is that their hearing is compromised by the presence of tinnitus. If the tinnitus could be cured then they would hear just fine. Recently, Oosterloo et al (2020) sought to address this issue.
Using data from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study on aging, they compared participants reporting tinnitus to those without tinnitus in subgroups stratified for hearing thresholds on the digits in noise test.
The results showed a 0.2 dB difference in persons with and without tinnitus, poorer in persons with tinnitus, and a mild speech frequency (0.5, 1, 2, 4 kHz) hearing loss.
The finding was statistically significant, but the effect was small and only observed with co-occurring hearing loss.
Overall, tinnitus may create some minor disturbance in speech in noise understanding, but does not cover up a person’s ability to hear.
Oosterloo B, Homans N, Goedegebure A. (2020) Tinnitus affects speech in noise comprehension in individuals with hearing loss. Oto Neuro, June 4.
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