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Capturing tinnitus

Audiological assessment and tailored sound-based intervention
PhD ceremony:Mr J. (Jose) Lopez Santacruz
When:May 29, 2024
Supervisor:prof. dr. P. (Pim) van Dijk
Co-supervisor:dr. ir. E. (Emile) de Kleine
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
Capturing tinnitus

Capturing tinnitus

To date, no cure has been found for tinnitus. Although tinnitus research has experienced exponential growth over the past two decades, our understanding of its underlying mechanisms remains incomplete. One aspect of the challenge in solving this puzzle is the strong correlation between tinnitus and hearing loss, making it particularly difficult to distinguish one from the other. Furthermore, tinnitus is heterogeneous, in the sense that it manifests differently in each patient, adding an extra layer of complexity to this problem.

With the aim of gaining a deeper insight into these issues, Jose Lopez Santacruz's thesis explored various assessment methods of tinnitus. Additionally, various approaches to hearing aid amplification were evaluated as potential treatments for tinnitus. Overall, this thesis examined various aspects of tinnitus from a clinical perspective, including measuring and assessing the impact of tinnitus and its treatment. These findings indicated that ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) does not have the potential to become a reliable diagnostic tool for tinnitus, highlighting the heterogeneity of individual responses. Consistent with these results, the analysis of masking contours and hearing thresholds underscored the heterogeneity of tinnitus and suggested that there may be no distinct subgroups of tinnitus.

Additionally, this thesis includes a questionnaire for assessing the impact of tinnitus and response to treatment for Dutch-speaking clinics, and a self-guided method for pitch matching that proved to be reliable in a clinical population. Clinical research has shown that the use of notch or boost amplification settings is not significantly better than using a standard amplification scheme in hearing aids for the treatment of tinnitus. This trial also emphasized the importance of tailoring sound-based therapies for tinnitus.