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Tinnitus Suppression Effect of Hearing Aids in Patients With High-frequency Hearing Loss

A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Trial

Yakunina, Natalia*; Lee, Woo Hyun; Ryu, Yoon-Jong; Nam, Eui-Cheol

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002315
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Introduction: Hearing aids (HAs) with frequency lowering have been used for high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL), but their effects on tinnitus relief have not been studied extensively. This randomized double-blind trial was performed to investigate and compare tinnitus suppression effects of conventional type HAs and frequency-lowering HAs in patients with HFHL.

Methods: A total of 114 patients were randomized into three groups: conventional HA using wide dynamic range compression, HA with frequency translation, and HA with linear frequency transposition. Participants wore HAs for 3 months and then discontinued their use. The final evaluation was performed at 3 months after cessation of wearing HA (6 mo after the initial visit). The Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) score and additional variables, such as matched tinnitus loudness and visual analog scale scores of subjectively perceived tinnitus loudness, daily awareness, and annoyance, were measured at the initial visit and at 3- and 6-month follow-ups.

Results: THI score and most of the additional outcomes were significantly improved at 3 and 6 months (3 mo after HA removal) compared with their initial values in all three groups. The incidence rates of patients with improvements in the THI score by 20% or more were 71.0, 72.7, and 74.3% at 3 months, and 54.8, 51.6, and 59.4% at 6 months for the three groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in primary or additional variables between hearing aid types at either 3 or 6 months.

Conclusion: This is a consolidated standards of reporting trials-guided study providing direct evidence for tinnitus suppression effects of HA alone, without accompanying counseling or any other treatments, which lasted for at least 3 months after patients stopped using HAs. HAs effectively suppressed tinnitus in patients with HFHL regardless of the amplification strategy type.

*Institute of Medical Science, Kangwon National University, School of Medicine

Department of Otolaryngology, Kangwon National University Hospital

Department of Otolaryngology, Kangwon National University, School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Eui-Cheol Nam, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology, School of Medicine, Kangwon National University, 1 Kangwondaehak-gil, Chuncheon 200-701, Korea; E-mail:

This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT Program of the NRF funded by the Korean government, MSIP (2016M3A9F1941022).

The authors disclose no conflicts of interest.

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