Tinnitus as an alarm bell: Stress reaction tinnitus model

D. Alpini, A. Cesarani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress is a significant factor influencing the clinical course of tinnitus. Auditory system is particularly sensitive to the effects of different stress factors (chemical, oxidative, emotional, etc.). Different stages of reaction (alarm, resistance, exhaustion) lead to different characteristics of tinnitus and different therapeutic approaches. Individual characteristics of stress reaction may explain different aspects of tinnitus in various patients with different responses to treatment, despite similar audiological and ethiological factors. A model based on individual reactions to stress factors (stress reaction tinnitus model) could explaintinnitus as an alarm signal, just like an 'alarm bell', informing the patient that something potentially dangerous for subject homeostasis is happening. Tinnitus could become a disabling symptom when the subject is chronically exposed to a stress factor and is unable to switch off the alarm. Stress signals, specific for each patient, have to be identified during the 'alarm' phase in order to prevent an evolution toward the 'resistance' and 'exhaustion' phases. In these phases, identification of stressor is no more sufficient, due to the organization of a 'paradoxical auditory memory' and a 'pathologically shifted attention to tinnitus'. Identification of stress reaction phase requires accurate otolaryngology and anamnesis combined with audiological matching tests (Feldman Masking Test, for example) and psychometric questionnaires (Tinnitus Reaction and Tinnitus Cognitive Questionnaires).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Gyngko biloba
  • Intratympanic dexamethasone
  • Melatonin
  • Stress reaction
  • Temporomandibular joint
  • Tinnitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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