Subtyping Somatic Tinnitus: A Cross-Sectional UK Cohort Study of Demographic, Clinical and Audiological Characteristics

PLoS One. 2015 May 21;10(5):e0126254. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126254. eCollection 2015.


Somatic tinnitus is the ability to modulate the psychoacoustic features of tinnitus by somatic manoeuvres. The condition is still not fully understood and further identification of this subtype is essential, particularly for the purpose of establishing protocols for both its diagnosis and treatment. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of somatic tinnitus within a large UK cohort using a largely unselected sample. We believe this to be relatively unique in comparison to current literature on the topic. This was investigated by using a total of 608 participant assessments from a set of recognised tinnitus and audiology measures. Results from a set of chi-square tests of association found that amongst the individuals with somatic tinnitus, a higher proportion had pulsatile tinnitus (different from heartbeat), were under the age of 40, reported variation in the loudness of their tinnitus and reported temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. The same pattern of results was confirmed using a multivariate analysis of the data based on logistic regression. These findings have strong implications towards the profiling of somatic tinnitus as a distinct subtype of general tinnitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis*
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology
  • Tinnitus / etiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The research was funded by a Summer Studentship (to CV) awarded to the University of Sussex by Action on Hearing Loss. DJH and DAH are supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit Programme. However, the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.