Tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) is an involuntary, anxiety-based condition where the reflex threshold for tensor tympani muscle activity is reduced, causing a frequent spasm. This can trigger aural symptoms from tympanic membrane tension, middle ear ventilation alterations and trigeminal nerve irritability. TTTS is considered to cause the distinctive symptoms of acoustic shock (AS), which can develop after exposure to an unexpected loud sound perceived as highly threatening. Hyperacusis is a dominant AS symptom. Aural pain/blockage without underlying pathology has been noted in tinnitus and hyperacusis patients, without wide acknowledgment. This multiclinic study investigated the prevalence of TTTS symptoms and AS in tinnitus and hyperacusis patients. This study included consecutive patients with tinnitus and/or hyperacusis seen in multiple clinics. Data collected: Symptoms consistent with TTTS (pain/numbness/burning in and around the ear; aural blockage mild vertigo/nausea; muffled hearing; tympanic flutter; headache); onset or exacerbation from exposure to loud/intolerable sounds; tinnitus/hyperacusis severity. All patients were medically cleared of underlying pathology, which could cause these symptoms. 60.0% of the total sample (345 patients), 40.6% of tinnitus only patients, 81.1% of hyperacusis patients had ≥1 symptoms (P < 0.001). 68% of severe tinnitus patients, 91.3% of severe hyperacusis patients had ≥1 symptoms (P < 0.001). 19.7% (68/345) of patients in the total sample had AS. 83.8% of AS patients had hyperacusis, 41.2% of non-AS patients had hyperacusis (P < 0.001). The high prevalence of TTTS symptoms suggests they readily develop in tinnitus patients, more particularly with hyperacusis. Along with AS, they should be routinely investigated in history-taking.
- Acoustic shock
- Tensor tympani
- Tonic tensor tympani syndrome