The International Tinnitus Journal


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The International Tinnitus Journal

Official Journal of the Neurootological and Equilibriometric Society
Official Journal of the Brazil Federal District Otorhinolaryngologist Society

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ISSN: 0946-5448

Volume 25, Issue 1 / June 2021

Review Article Pages:94-99

Hearing and Tinnitus Evaluation in Music Teachers

Authors: Selim Unsal, Fatih Bal



Purpose: Music is an aesthetic whole consisting of sounds combined according to a certain purpose, method and understanding. Therefore, it also interacts with emotions in listeners. Music sounds are in the range of approximately 20-8000 Hz. This frequency range is within the frequency spectrum of the human cochlea. The aim of this research is to evaluate the hearing thresholds of music teachers and to determine whether they cause tinnitus.

Material and Methods: This research was conducted in Turgut Özal University Medical Faculty Hospital Audiology and Speech Disorders clinic. A total of 35 people (17 music teachers, 18 control groups) participated in the research. In this research, 17 music teachers (11 females, 6 males) aged 24-39, and 18 volunteers (12 females, 6 males) participated in the control group. After the otoscopic examination of all participants, pure tone audiometry (in the range of 125-16,000 Hz), immitansmetric examination and Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE) tests were performed. Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) was used in the evaluation of tinnitus.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the music teachers and the control group in all pure tone hearing threshold averages of 125-16,000 Hz (p>0.05). The Uncomfortable Level (UCL) average of music teachers was 104.12 ± 3.83 dB for the right ear, 108.33 ± 3.83 dB for the control group, 107.78 ± 4.28 dB for the left ear, and 103.53 ± 4.28 for the control group. DPOAE results were found statistically significant at 3000 Hz only for the right and left ears (p=0.036; p=0.015, respectively). Also, for DPOAE test, the control group’s OAE values were higher than the music teachers. According to the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory in music teachers, 1st degree tinnitus has emerged.

Conclusion: According to the findings obtained, the low UCL value in music teachers compared to the control group suggests the tolerance problem. Continuous exposure to the sound was thought to create a noise effect on the cochlea, and as a result, tinnitus susceptibility appeared in music teaching

Keywords: Tinnitus; Music teachers, Hearing


Tinnitus; Music teachers, Hearing.


Music can be defined as the art of combining sounds or musical notes with harmonious patterns that are pleasant and satisfy emotions. Music is also a melody [1] In the last decade, there has been a marked increase in the number of people listening to music and the time spent listening to music. One of the most important reasons for this increase is the easy access to the instruments required for listening to music (advances in technology for personal music players and smartphones) [2]. In addition, listening to loud music can cause various hearing disorders, especially in adolescents and young adults [3,4]. Even listening to light music for 8-10 hours a day can cause hearing impairment.2 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to entertainment noises such as music [5]. Listening to music is seen as a positive aspect of life in most cultures. However, exposure to loud noise causes hearing loss and is responsible for 16% of hearing loss worldwide [6]. Exposure to chronic noise, oxidative stress, metabolic exhaustion and ischemia also causes the internal and external hairy cells in the cochlea to gradually disappear [7,8] Those who are interested in professional music (music teachers) are at risk for hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis and diplacusis. Tinnitus is defined as perception of sound without any external stimuli and affects 10-25% of the adult population [9,10]. Tinnitus negatively affects individuals’ daily activities and quality of life. Hearing loss and exposure to loud sounds are among the risk factors of tinnitus. In individuals with hearing loss due to noise, tinnitus ranges between 35-77% [11,12]. Hyperacusis is often a condition associated with tinnitus (Heller, 2003) [13]. It is defined as a reduced tolerance accompanied by painful sensitivity in perceptual, psychological and social dimensions, with sounds of average intensity, sometimes ordinary environmental sounds. Those dealing with professional music can be constantly exposed to loud sounds. This situation brings problems with the hearing system. The aim of this research is to evaluate the hearing thresholds of music teachers and to determine whether they cause tinnitus or hyperacusis.

Materials and Methods

Participants: This study was conducted in the Audiology and Speech Disorders clinic of Turgut Ozal University Medical Faculty Hospital. Approval was obtained from the Non-Invasive Clinical Research Ethics Committee of Turgut Ozal University. A total of 35 people (17 music teachers, 18 control groups) participated in the study. In this study, 17 music teachers (11 females, 6 males) aged 24-39, and 18 volunteers (12 females, 6 males) participated in the control group. The ages of the individuals participating in this study range between 22 and 38. The average age of music teachers is 26.40±5.6, and the average age of control groups is 27.19±6.3. Informed consent form was taken from all participants. After the otoscopic examination of all participants, pure tone audiometry (in the range of 125-16,000 Hz), immitansmetric examination and Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE) tests were performed. Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) was used in the evaluation of tinnitus. Those with normal otoscopic examination for music teachers and control group were included in the study. Those who had any history of ear, acoustic trauma, ototoxic drug use, and neurological and psychiatric illness were excluded from the study.

Turkey’s teachers are entering a total of 30 hours of classes per day 6 hours per week. Music teachers also attend classes in a similar way. The weekly hours of music teachers participating in the study vary between 25-30. Music teachers are also interested in music outside of school and this period varies between 8-10 hours weekly. In our study, these criteria were taken as basis to ensure standardization. In addition, the working time of the teachers who participated in the study as teachers varies between 10-13 years. There is also no acoustic feature (sound insulation in floors, ceilings and walls, etc.) especially in the classes where music teachers attend music lessons.

Audiological Evaluation: Hearing thresholds of all participants in the range of 0.125-16 kHz were determined. Interacoustics AC-40 clinical audiometer (Assens, Denmark) was used to detect hearing thresholds and speech tests. Audiometric Earphones TDH-39P Telephonics are used for hearing thresholds between 0.125-8 kHz, and Koss HV-IA supraaural headphones are used for hearing thresholds between 10-16 kHz. Speaking tests were done live by microphone. The Speech Reception Threshold (SRT), Words Discrimination Score (WDS), the Most Comfortable Level (MCL) and Uncomfortable Level (UCL) were determined. Whether or not middle ear functions are normal was determined by Interacoustic AZ-26 impedance meter (Assens, Denmark). Measurements were made between +200 daPa - 400 daPa pressure range, 226 Hz probe tone and 80 dBSPL. Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE) measurements were made with Madsen Capella (GN Otometrics A/S 2630 Taastrup, Denmark). Measurements were made at the frequency of 2f1-f2 (f2/f1 ratio 1.22), at the level of 65 dBHL (for L1) and 55 dBHL (for L2). DPOAE measurements were made between 0.75 kHz and 8 kHz, and in industrial cabins, “Industrial Acoustics Company (IAC)”. Signal Noise Ratio (SNR) ratio was recorded for all frequencies.

Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI): Tinnitus Handicap Inventory is a highly reliable and consistent survey used to measure the symptoms of patients with tinnitus. It was adapted to Turkish by Aksoy et al (2007) [14]. There are 25 questions in this questionnaire and the answers are three options: “Yes”, “No” and “Sometimes”. Yes answer is 4, Sometimes answer is 2, No answer is 0 points. The lowest 0 and the highest 100 points can be obtained. The evaluation according to the score result is shown in Table 1.

Frequency Control Group


When music is the dominant sound source, the resulting auditory conditions are called Music Induced Hearing Disorders (MIHD). The marked increase in prevalence of MIHDs in music industry professionals as compared to the general population indicates that music should be considered a potentially damaging stimulus. Music differs from noise in both acoustical and psychophysical qualities. Even within music professionals’ subgroups, variability in occupational settings, work schedules, and dominate sound sources further complicates risk criteria generalizations of music industry professionals Koelsch et. al. (2005)15 investigated the functional neuroanatomy of music perception in children and adults. As a result of the research, they stated that music studies in children and adults caused strong activations in the frontal and temporal anterior regions of the brain 16 According to the studies, children educated at an early age with music become more comfortable, peaceful, mild and selfconfident. It is known that music has a positive effect on fields such as language, mathematics, working memory, focus and attention and increases success 17. There are cases where music is harmful besides this benefits (such as hearing loss). Just like noise-related hearing losses, music-induced hearing losses occur in the region of 3000-6000 Hz notch 18. Affection in music-related hearing loss is bilateral and symmetrical19 Music professionals may not be able to continue their careers due to hearing problems arising from music. In addition, hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis, diplacusis and tolerance problems may occur in these people6-15. In this research, we compared the music thresholds and hearing thresholds of people who did not deal with music (control group), SRT, WDS, MCL, UCL and DPOAE test results. We could not find a statistically significant difference between the hearing thresholds, SRT, MCL WDS test results of the music teachers and the control group. However, it was thought that the hearing thresholds of music teachers increased compared to the control group, and this occurred as a result of continuous exposure to music. A statistically significant difference was found between the UCL test results between the groups 20. This is called the tolerance problem. Music teachers are uncomfortable with loud sound. These results show that cochlear sensitivity develops in music teachers. In other words, it suggests that there is an effect on the outer and inner hair cells. In DPOAE test, a statistically significant difference was found between the groups at bilateral 3000 Hz. It is noteworthy that there is a significant difference in 3000 Hz. Depending on the noise, temporary or permanent threshold changes are observed in the cochlea.20 Affecting the cochlea at the low level of noise occurs at the stimulus frequency, and at high intensity levels at the 1 octave frequency of the frequency that stimulates threshold changes21-22. Sataloff stated that, depending on the frequency spectrum, the first signs of noise-induced hearing loss started on the audiogram as “V” at a maximum of 2-6 kHz 23. This explains the difference in emission values of 3000 Hz in DPOAE test results in music teachers. In other words, the high intensity music noise at the frequency of 2000 Hz may have affected the 3000 Hz region. As can be seen, although music is a pleasant melody, it can negatively affect people’s hearing health. Plontke et. al. (2004)24 stated that the noise in musical instruments is at the level of 75-105 dB (A). They reported that sounds more severe than 75 dB (A) negatively affect the human body, especially the hearing system24. Fligor and Cox (2004)


Music professionals are constantly exposed to music. Accordingly, sensitivity develops in the inner ears. Depending on this sensitivity, tinnitus may occur. Tinnitus negatively affects auditory perception and people who are psychologically interested in music. Music professionals are not a homogeneous group spread across the population, it is necessary to educate this group on music-related hearing disorders and to carry out public health campaigns.


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 *Corresponding Author:

Selim Unsal, Department of Department of Speech and Language Therapy, Faculty of Health Science ?stanbul Atlas University, Turkey. E-mail: [email protected] Phone: +90 553 593 85 36

Paper submitted on March 08, 2021; and Accepted on April 30, 2021

Citation: Selim Unsal, Fatih Bal. Hearing and Tinnitus Evaluation in Music Teachers. Int Tinnitus Journal. 2021;25(1):94-99.

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