INTRODUCTION: This study aims to evaluate the outcomes of masking, counseling, and a new sound therapy protocol in subjective tinnitus patients.
METHODS: This prospective study, conducted between November 2014 and November 2015, included 60 subjective tinnitus patients (33 males, 27 females; mean age 51.6±11.0 years; range, 29 to 76 years) randomly assigned to five groups. Total masking was implemented in four groups (groups 1, 2, 3, and 4), while combined habituation therapy and sound therapy were implemented in one group (group 5). Patients that did not benefit from masking therapy were offered habituation therapy. Directive counseling was applied during each session in group 5 and patients were started on a new sound protocol. Patients were evaluated with the tinnitus handicap questionnaire (THQ) in the beginning of the study (THQ1) and in the second (THQ2) and fourth months (THQ3). Patients were evaluated in the second month and regrouped: Patients that benefited from masking therapy were regrouped as group A, patients that did not benefit from masking therapy and continued with habituation therapy were group B, and patients that were only treated with habituation formed group C.
RESULTS: Median THQ2-THQ1 and THQ3-THQ1 scores were significantly lower in group A (p=0.00063 and p=0.00109, respectively). Median THQ2-THQ1 and THQ3-THQ1 scores were significantly lower in group B (p=0.02421 and p=0.00503, respectively). Median THQ3-THQ1 and THQ3-THQ2 scores were significantly lower in group C (p=0.04685 and p=0.00506, respectively).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Masking with tinnitus masker could be beneficial in a limited group of patients. Further studies with longer follow-up duration for patients receiving only habituation and habituation after masking failure are warranted.