Clinical measures for investigating hidden hearing loss
The present study compared clinical measures of auditory function in two listener groups prone to hidden hearing loss relative to a control group: a) listeners with tinnitus, and b) listeners with a history of noise-exposure. Auditory brainstem response (ABR) wave I, III and V were measured in response to a 4-kHz tone burst to quantify the level-growth of wave I and the amplitude difference between waves I-III and I-V. In addition, speech-in-noise performance using “Dantale I” and the Danish hearing in noise test (HINT) were assessed. The ABR wave-I level growth showed no difference between the tinnitus-, noise-exposed- and control group. The listeners with tinnitus had, however, significantly larger wave I-III differences indicating a gain at brainstem level. While the ABR results support that the wave I-III difference can be used as a physiological indicator of tinnitus, none of the applied audiological methods show signs of a noise-induced hidden hearing loss in the tested listener groups.
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