Modulation of Tinnitus by Voluntary Jaw Movements

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Abstract

Objective: The authors describe symptoms and population characteristics in patients with tinnitus who report the ability to control the ludness of their tinnitus by performing voluntary movements.

Design: The authors used a questionnaire.

Setting: The study was conducted at a tertiary care center.

Patients: Respondents have the self-reported ability to control the loudness of their tinnitus by performing voluntary movements.

Results: The authors describe symptoms and population characteristics in 93 patients with tinnitus (83% men, 17% women) who report the ability to control the loudness of their tinnitus by performing voluntary movements: 85% of these report jaw movements and 9% report eye movements affect their tinnitus. In the jaw-movement group, tinnitus loudness increased in 90%. Jaw movement affected the pitch in 51% with an increase in pitch reported by 90%. Other maneuvers, such as pressure applied to the head, affected tinnitus in many subjects. Tinnitus had a major impact on the lives of the authors' respondents: 27% registered mild to moderate depression and 8% moderate to severe depression as shown by the Beck Depression Inventory.

Conclusions: The ability to modulate tinnitus by performing voluntary somatosensory or motor acts is likely the result of plastic changes in the brains of these patients with the development of aberrant connections between the auditory and sensory-motor systems. The strong predominance of men in the sample suggests the presence of a gender-specific factor that mediates these changes.

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