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Objective tinnitus due to high-level SOAE
A question on otoacoustic emissions and tinnitus:
A 31-year-old electrical engineer wrote to me and asked for help. One year
ago he had a sudden hearing loss in his right ear. Hearing was back to
normal after four weeks, but during this recovery period he had developed a
strong tonal tinnitus in this ear. He was able to compare the pitch of this
tone with an adjustable tone from a tone generator. The ear's tone turned
out to be a sinetone of 1042 Hz.
Later he was also able to hear the tone by his left ear when he connected
both ears via a thin tube. After that he also recorded the tone by a
microphone in the ear canal of his right ear. Finally a high-level
spontaneous otoacoustic emission (SOAE) at 1042 Hz was established
audiologically. The level was given as +22 dB, but I am not sure how
reliable this figure is. He wrote that where he lives even the best clinic
never had a similar case and does not know how to help him.
The problem is that in recent months he had the impression that the tone had
become louder and louder. It is unkown if there has been an objective
increase in SOAE level, but he perceives the tone as being much louder now.
He has come to a point of desperation now, and he would accept even
destructive surgical measures just to get rid of this tone.
It is known that SOAEs can be suppressed by outside sinetones applied to the
ear. What is the experience with suppressing high-level SOAEs? Is it
possible? If yes, how is it done best, and which equipment would this
Neuroscience of Music
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