The effects of menstrual cycle phase and stress-hormone levels on tinnitus perception

Contact Name: Dr Karolina Kluk

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I obtained my PhD in 2005 in psychoacoustics at the University of Cambridge and gained my experience in electrophysiology at the University of Toronto in 2006. I started as a lecturer in Audiology at the University of Manchester in September 2006. My research interests lie in development of new electrophysiological techniques to diagnose a wide range of hearing disorders, physiological and perceptual consequences of hearing loss, and brain plasticity induced either by training or deprivation. Recently I became fascinated with the effect of female sex hormones on perception of tinnitus.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the effects of menstrual cycle phase and stress-hormone levels on tinnitus perception over the menstrual cycle.

Design: After a preliminary session to assess hearing and tinnitus, four sessions were conducted in the four phases of one menstrual cycle for female subjects, and on four consecutive weeks for male subjects. Testing at each session comprised Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), saliva sample taking for cortisol analysis and tinnitus subjective intensity assessment. A final sixth session comprised a psychosocial stress task.

Sample: Seven female (aged between 19 and 39 years) and three male subjects (aged between 24 and 45 years) who had self-reported tinnitus.

Results: Mean TFI total score in female subjects was significantly higher (over four-fold) in the early luteal phase than in other phases. There was no significant pattern of fluctuation in THI, STAI state or cortisol in female or male subjects, or in TFI total score in male subjects over the four sessions.

Conclusions: Menstrual phase plays a significant part in tinnitus severity fluctuations. The results will aid future tinnitus intervention for women suffering from severe tinnitus.
Acknowledgments: This experiment was conducted in collaboration with Keri Abbot and Dr. Marine Rosa.

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