11th Tinnitus Research Initiative (TRI) Meeting and TINNET conference

Tinnitus Research Initiative is an organisation whose aim is to support research studies on tinnitus. The conference attracted approximately two hundred participants from all over the world. The Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing was represented by dr n. med. Danuta Raj-Koziak who delivered presentations of two papers concerning the results of psychometric assessment of visual analogue scales that evaluate the volume of tinnitus, the level of tinnitus-related distress, the manner of handling it as well as the assessment of the problem of tinnitus (Visual Analogue Scales as a tool for the assessment of tinnitus: Psychometric evaluation in a clinical population), and the results of THS adaptation to the Polish language (Tinnitus and Hearing Survey: A Polish study of Validity and Reliability). Apart from dr Raj-Koziak, Poland was also represented by two specialists – from Łódź and Poznań.

The subject matter of the conference was:

  • animal models which explained the pathogenesis of tinnitus,
  • sound therapies,
  • tinnitus subtypes – characteristics and differential diagnostics,
  • cognitive-behavioural therapy in the treatment of tinnitus,
  • risk factors, causes of tinnitus,
  • cochlear implants in tinnitus therapy,
  • genetics and tinnitus,
  • tinnitus assessment methods.

To conclude, it may be observed that the theory of enhanced spontaneous activity in the central nervous system which is responsible for the hearing of tinnitus remains valid. However, it was also reported that the phenomenon referred to as “residual inhibition”, which consists in temporary inhibition of tinnitus in a noisy environment, is seen in every person and therefore is not a characteristic feature of tinnitus patients solely.

Furthermore, there is a common belief that there are different subtypes of tinnitus that necessitate application of a separate therapeutic procedure. Particular attention should be given to somatosensory tinnitus as its treatment is based on manual therapy performed by a physiotherapist, who already plays an extremely important role in teams of specialists in tinnitus therapy. The conference featured presentation of an armchair-like device intended for relaxation and stretching of the patient’s spine, which may become useful in the treatment of tinnitus of somatosensory origin.

Psychological therapy is still deemed to be beneficial in tinnitus therapy. There is a common agreement that there is no medication that would effectively treat this disorder and no preparation is therefore recommended for use. The importance of comprehensive psychometric analyses in the process of adaptation of the surveys assessing the level of tinnitus-related distress was emphasised.

A new field of genetics-related studies in which attempts are made at searching for gene mutations that are responsible for the occurrence of tinnitus was introduced at the meeting.

The presence of vestibular migraine which is accompanied by tinnitus was presented as a case that deserved special attention. Unfortunately, few papers pertained to the assessment of the outcomes of tinnitus treatment, which clinicians always look forward to with greatest anticipation.