Sudden Brief Unilateral Tapering Tinnitus: Prevalence and Properties : Otology & Neurotology

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Sudden Brief Unilateral Tapering Tinnitus

Prevalence and Properties

Oron, Yahav*; Roth, Yehudah*†; Levine, Robert A.

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Otology & Neurotology 32(9):p 1409-1414, December 2011. | DOI: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e3182355626



To systematically characterize unilateral tinnitus typically lasting less than a minute.

Study Design 

Observational study.


Outpatient clinic in a tertiary referral hospital.


Study I: 62 unselected adults. Study II: 74 adults with sudden brief unilateral tapering tinnitus (SBUTT).


Study I: Structured interview regarding SBUTTs and other types of tinnitus. Study II: Maintaining an SBUTT log for 4 consecutive months.

Main Outcome Measures 

Study I: Retrospective prevalence of SBUTTs. Study II: Prospective frequency and characteristics of SBUTTs.


Study I: 76% of the participants recalled having at least one SBUTT in the past. There was no significant difference in the incidence of SBUTTs with respect to handedness, age, sex, the presence or absence of chronic tinnitus, whether tinnitus could be brought on by exposure to loud sounds, or whether auditory perception could be modulated with strong muscle contractions of the neck or jaw. Study II: SBUTTs mean rate was 1.2 per month (range, 0–11.5). The rate in people with chronic tinnitus was twice that of those without chronic tinnitus. Right ear SBUTTs predominated nearly 2 to 1. Pitch estimates ranged between 0.1 and 4.4 kHz; 75% of SBUTTs lasted 25 seconds or less. A quarter occurred with simultaneous ear fullness.


In the 76% of adults with SBUTTs, the average rate of occurrence was about once a month. SBUTTs are twice as common for the right ear as the left. One of 4 SBUTTs occurs with ear fullness. A quarter of adults never recalled ever having an SBUTT.

© 2011 Otology & Neurotology, Inc.

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