Detroit — A new report from Henry Ford Hospital shows that insomnia can have a negative effect on tinnitus, worsening the functional and emotional toll of chronic ringing, buzzing, hissing, or clicking in the head and ears.
The study shows a significant association between insomnia and the severity of perceived tinnitus symptoms, with patients who have insomnia reporting greater emotional distress from tinnitus.
“Tinnitus involves cognitive, emotional, and psycho-physiological processes, which can result in an increase in a patient’s distress,” says study co-author Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, chair, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford. “Sleep complaints, including insomnia, in these patients may result in a decrease in their tolerance to tinnitus.”
The research team conducted a retrospective study of 117 patients treated between 2009 and 2011 at Henry Ford. Information was gathered from patients through telephone and written interviews using the Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (or TRQ, which determines the emotional effects of tinnitus has had on a person’s lifestyle and general well-being) and the Insomnia Severity Index (or ISI, a brief screening measure of insomnia) scales.
Severity of TRQ was shown to be a good predictor of sleep disturbance and of group association, especially the “emotional” subscore component (sensitivity 96.9% and specificity 55.3 % for identifying tinnitus patients with insomnia).
The greater the insomnia disability, the more severe the patient’s complaints were regarding the tinnitus, the study finds.
“Treating patients with tinnitus is challenging,” notes Yaremchuk. “A chronic tinnitus patient presents a challenging clinical picture that may include anxiety, depression, annoyance, or self-reported emotional distress. And one of the most frequent self-reported complaints of tinnitus patients is ‘getting to sleep.’”
The study also offers further proof that evaluation and treatment of insomnia patients with tinnitus may result in a reduction in tinnitus symptom severity.
The study’s authors included Yaremchuk and George Miguel, MD, Christopher Drake, PhD, Thomas Roth, PhD; and Ed Peterson, PhD.
SOURCE: Henry Ford Hospital