Changes in tinnitus and physiological biomarkers of stress in response to short-term broadband noise and sounds of nature.


Audiology Section, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; Eisdell Moore Centre, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; Centre for Brain Research, The University of Auckland, Brain Research New Zealand, New Zealand. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external sound source is present. In some cases, this perception coincides with, or results in, stress. Tinnitus-related distress has been associated with increased levels of cortisol and elevated levels of sympathetic tone. Our primary hypothesis was that short-term sound exposure would reduce tinnitus perception and various physiological measures of stress. A secondary hypothesis was that a self-selected nature sound would reduce physiological markers of stress more than broadband noise.
METHODS : Twenty-one participants with constant bothersome tinnitus underwent an audiological assessment. Measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, salivary cortisol and cortisone concentrations, and tinnitus ratings were carried out three times: prior to and, in a counterbalance order, after 30 min of broadband noise and after 30 min of a self-selected nature sound (from: ocean waves, stream, rain or shower sounds).
RESULTS : Findings revealed significant reductions in blood pressure measurements following broadband noise. None of the other stress measures demonstrated a statistically significant change. Both broadband noise and nature sounds elicited significant improvements in ratings of tinnitus.
CONCLUSIONS : While both sound types had a positive impact on many dimensions of tinnitus, only the broadband noise was associated with a reduction in blood pressure. These results are consistent with a complex interaction between sound and tinnitus and suggest a multifactorial basis to sound therapy that includes a reduction in arousal.


Biomarker,Sound therapy,Stress,Tinnitus,

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