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Research Article Open Access
BACKGROUND: Tinnitus or noise perception with no identifiable acoustic origin is a perplexing symptom to sufferers as well as to otolaryngologists saddled with managing such patients. With most studies from the continent focusing on etiologies and clinical types, there is paucity of information on psychoacoustic properties of tinnitus among Africans. Setting: Tertiary care otolaryngology clinics in Abuja.
OBJECTIVE: To determine characteristics and maskability of tinnitus seen in adult Nigerians who self-report tinnitus as the main presenting symptom. METHODS: A prospective study involving 100 adult Nigerians seen at two specialist Otorhinolaryngology clinics in Abuja - National Hospital Abuja and CSR Otologics Specialist Clinics, Abuja between January 2008 and June 2014. Clinical and audiological history and findings were captured in the study protocol. Participants were then assessed to determine Tinnitus pitch match, loudness match, mask ability and minimum masking level as well as residual inhibition. RESULTS: 100 participants aged 24 - 58 years were assessed. Male to female ratio was 1:1.4. Tinnitus was sudden in onset in 24%, and gradual in 76%, involved the right ear in 32%, left ear in 38% and both ears in 30%. 48% of participants have other symptoms apart from tinnitus, and 32% were on other medications known to induce tinnitus. 16% of participants gave history of exposure to significant loud sound. Only 16% of participants have significant otoscopic findings. Tinnitus abated with carotid pressure in 64%, with extra ocular muscle movement in 16%, with teeth clenching in 32%, with neck movement in 28%, and with movement of arms or legs in 8%. The mean difference in hearing threshold of ear with and without tinnitus was 12.09 dB HL. Tinnitus pitch match was 4 KHz in 44%, 3 KHz in 24%, and 2 KHz in 32%, while mean tinnitus loudness match was 41.24 dB SL. Tinnitus was maskable in 88% of subjects, with a residual inhibition of 2 to 76 seconds.
CONCLUSION: Majority of adult Nigerians that self-report tinnitus have maskable tinnitus, and this should be considered when considering hearing augmentation for those with associated impaired hearing.
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Author(s): Abiodun Daud Olusesi Ojetoyinbo Adewunmi Adedoja
otolaryngology, psychoacoustics, tinnitus.