Factors related to uncomfortable loudness levels for patients seen in a tinnitus and hyperacusis clinic.

26 Mar 2018

OBJECTIVES: The aims were as follows: (1) to explore patterns of uncomfortable loudness levels (ULLs) across frequency and their associated factors for patients with tinnitus and hyperacusis, and (2) to re-evaluate the criteria for diagnosing hyperacusis based on ULLs and scores for the Hyperacusis Questionnaire (HQ). DESIGN: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study. STUDY SAMPLE: 573 consecutive patients for whom ULLs had been measured were included. RESULTS: A good correspondence between the diagnosis of hyperacusis based on the across-frequency average ULL for the ear with the lowest ULLs (ULLmin) and hyperacusis handicap based on HQ scores was obtained with cut-off values of ULLmin ≤77 dB HL and HQ score ≥ 22. A regression model showed significant relationships between ULLmin and the score on the HQ and age. The mean HQ score for patients with a large interaural asymmetry in ULLs was significantly higher than for the remainder. Hyperacusis handicap was associated with strong across-frequency variations in ULLs. CONCLUSIONS: Appropriate cut-off values for diagnosing hyperacusis are ULLmin ≤77 dB HL and HQ score ≥22. Large interaural asymmetry and large across-frequency variations in ULLs are associated with higher HQ scores.