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Managing Chronic Tinnitus As Phantom Auditory Pain

Managing Chronic Tinnitus As Phantom Auditory Pain

Robert L. Folmer, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR

Robert L. Folmer Ph.D.
Tinnitus Clinic, Oregon Hearing Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland

Correspondence to:
Robert L. Folmer, Ph.D.
Oregon Hearing Research Center
Mail Code NRC04
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97201-3098

Telephone: (503) 494-8032
Fax: (503) 494-5656
email: folmerr@ohsu.edu
Web address: www.ohsu.edu/ohrc/tinnitusclinic

Patients experiencing severe chronic tinnitus have many characteristics in common with chronic pain patients. This study explored these similarities in order to formulate treatment strategies that are likely to be effective for patients experiencing phantom auditory pain. Answers to questionnaires filled out by 160 patients who visited our Tinnitus Clinic were analyzed. Patients rated the severity and loudness of their tinnitus; completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and an abbreviated version of the Beck Depression Inventory (aBDI). Patients received counseling, audiometric testing, and matched the loudness of their tinnitus to sounds played through headphones. Tinnitus severity was highly correlated with patients degree of sleep disturbance, STAI and aBDI scores. The reported (on a 1-to-10 scale) — but not the matched — loudness of tinnitus was correlated with tinnitus severity, sleep disturbance, STAI, and aBDI scores. Treatment recommendations are discussed in reference to these results.

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