Over the last three years of hearing aid dispensing, it was observed that among 74 subjects fitted with a linear octave frequency transposition (LOFT) hearing aid, 60 reported partial or complete tinnitus suppression during day and night, an effect still lasting after several months or years of daily use. We report in more details on 38 subjects from whom we obtained quantified measures of tinnitus suppression through visual analog scaling and several additional psychoacoustic and audiometric measures. The long-term suppression seems independent of subject age, and of duration and subjective localization of tinnitus. A small but significant correlation was found with audiogram losses but not with high frequency loss slope. Long-term tinnitus suppression was observed for different etiologies, but with a low success rate for sudden deafness. It should be noted that a majority of subjects (23) had a history of noise exposure. Tinnitus suppression started after a few days of LOFT hearing aid use and reached a maximum after a few weeks of daily use. For nine subjects different amounts of frequency shifting were tried and found more or less successful for long-term tinnitus suppression, no correlation was found with tinnitus pitch. When the use of the LOFT hearing aid was stopped tinnitus reappeared within a day, and after re-using the LOFT aid it disappeared again within a day. For about one third of the 38 subjects a classical amplification or a non linear frequency compression aid was also tried, and no such tinnitus suppression was observed. Besides improvements in audiometric sensitivity to high frequencies and in speech discrimination scores, LOFT can be considered as a remarkable opportunity to suppress tinnitus over a long time scale. From a pathophysiological viewpoint these observations seem to fit with a possible re-attribution of activity to previously deprived cerebral areas corresponding to high frequency coding.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 20-December-2012
Author(s): Peltier E., Peltier C., Tahar S., Alliot-Lugaz E., Cazals Y.