Study: Insomnia takes toll on tinnitus patients

April 19, 2012

For the more than 36 million people plagued by tinnitus, insomnia can have a negative effect on the condition, worsening the functional and emotional toll of chronic ringing, buzzing, hissing or clicking in the head and ears, according to a new study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The study shows a significant association between and the severity of perceived tinnitus symptoms, with patients with insomnia reporting greater emotional distress from tinnitus.

"Tinnitus involves cognitive, emotional, and psycho-physiological processes, which can result in an increase in a patient's distress," says study co-author Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, M.D., Chair, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford. "Sleep complaints, including insomnia, in these patients may result in a decrease in their tolerance to tinnitus."

The study will be presented this week at the Combined Otolaryngological Spring Meetings in San Diego.

While the exact physiological cause of tinnitus is not known, there are several conditions that have been shown to trigger or worsen tinnitus: Exposure to loud noises, wax build-up in the ear, ear or sinus infections, head and neck trauma, and certain disorders, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome.

Previous medical studies also have shown a strong association between tinnitus and various psychological disturbances.

For the Henry Ford study, Dr. Yaremchuk, Dr. George Miguel and their research team conducted a retrospective study of 117 patients treated between 2009 and 2011 at Henry Ford.

Information was gathered from patients through telephone and written interviews using the Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (or, TRQ, which determines the emotional effects tinnitus has had on a person's lifestyle and general well-being) and the Insomnia Severity Index (or, ISI, a brief screening measure of insomnia) scales.

Severity of TRQ was shown to be a good predictor of sleep disturbance and in predicting group association, especially the "emotional" subscore component (sensitivity 96.9 percent and specificity 55.3 percent for identifying tinnitus patients with insomnia).

The greater the insomnia disability, the more severe the patient's complaints were regarding the tinnitus, the study finds.

"Treating patients with tinnitus is challenging," notes Dr. Yaremchuk. "A chronic tinnitus patient presents a challenging clinical picture that may include anxiety, depression, annoyance, or self-reported . And one of most frequent self-reported complaint of tinnitus patients is 'getting to sleep.'"

The study also offers further proof that evaluation and treatment of insomnia with tinnitus may result in a reduction in symptom severity.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New approach to tracking how deadly 'superbugs' travel could slow their spread

November 22, 2017
Killer bacteria - ones that have out-evolved our best antibiotics—may not go away anytime soon. But a new approach to tracking their spread could eventually give us a fighting chance to keep their death toll down.

Research points to diagnostic test for top cause of liver transplant in kids

November 22, 2017
Biliary atresia is the most common cause of liver transplants for children in the United States. Now researchers report in Science Translational Medicine finding a strong biomarker candidate that could be used for earlier ...

Rainfall can indicate that mosquito-borne epidemics will occur weeks later

November 22, 2017
A new study demonstrates that outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses Zika and Chikungunya generally occur about three weeks after heavy rainfall.Researchers also found that Chikungunya will predominate over Zika when both circulate ...

Metabolites altered in chronic kidney disease

November 22, 2017
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 people in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). These individuals have a very high risk of cardiovascular ...

Alcohol consumption and metabolic factors act together to increase the risk of severe liver disease

November 22, 2017
A new study provides insights into the interaction between alcohol consumption and metabolic factors in predicting severe liver disease in the general population. The findings, which are published in Hepatology, indicate ...

Gastric acid suppressant lansoprazole may target tuberculosis

November 21, 2017
A cheap and widely used drug, used to treat conditions such as heartburn, gastritis and ulcers, could work against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), according to new research from UCL and the London School of Hygiene ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.