Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013-01-01)

Autonomic Conditions in Tinnitus and Implications for Korean Medicine

  • Eun Ji Choi,
  • Younghee Yun,
  • Seungyeon Yoo,
  • Kyu Seok Kim,
  • Jeong-Su Park,
  • Inhwa Choi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2013


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Tinnitus patients suffer from not only auditory sensations but also physical, mental, and social difficulties. Even though tinnitus is believed to be associated with the autonomic nervous system, changes in autonomic conditions in tinnitus patients are not receiving much research attention. The aims of this study were to investigate the autonomic condition of tinnitus patients and to consider Korean medicine in the treatment of tinnitus with an evidence-based approach. We performed a retrospective chart review and compared the heart rate variability (HRV) parameters of 40 tinnitus patients (19 acute and 21 chronic) and 40 healthy controls. In tinnitus patients, the power of the high frequency component and total power of the HRV significantly decreased (P<0.05), and the low frequency to high frequency ratio significantly increased (P<0.05). There was no significant difference between the acute and chronic patients. When comparing each group with the controls, there was a tendency that the longer the duration of tinnitus was, the larger the observed HRV change was. In conclusion, tinnitus patients have vagal withdrawal and sympathetic overactivity, and chronic tinnitus more strongly affects autonomic conditions than acute tinnitus. This study provides evidence for Korean medical treatments of tinnitus, such as acupuncture and Qi-training, that cause modulation of cardiac autonomic function.