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Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2019 Feb;177:73-76. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

Clocking tinnitus: An audiology symptom of migraine.

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Department of Neurology, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, and College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
Department of Surgery, Chien-Yau Hospital, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and Management, Fo Guang University, Yilan County, Taiwan.
Department of Clinical Forensic Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, and College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Electronic address:



In contrast to previous concept that tinnitus is confined to an otologic disorder, current evidence supports it as a phantom sensory phenomenon of vestibulocochlear damage with cortical reorganization. It is a common problem worldwide, but the treatment response is always unsatisfactory.


In this study, we report 10 patients who described their staccato tinnitus as simulating the ticking sound of a pendulum or quartz clock (or termed clocking tinnitus). The tinnitus characteristics, laboratory tests, and treatment response were recorded.


Clocking tinnitus was unilateral in three patients, bilateral in one patient, and at midline in another six patients. It usually subsided within 15 min. Neither patient experienced vertigo, hemifacial spasm, focal neurological deficit or otic disorder in association with tinnitus. Pre-existing migraine was present in seven patients. During tinnitus attack, a few migraine symptoms concurrently occurred in six patients. Pure-tone audiometry showed symmetric sloping pattern of hearing impairment in half patients whereas brainstem auditory evoked potentials revealed a prolonged wave I-III latency in 30% of patients. The p300 and electroencephalogram were normal in all of them. Neuroimaging study did not disclose structural change. All patients responded poorly to conventional treatments but favorably to flunarizine or topiramate.


Clocking tinnitus may be an audiology manifestation of migraine in some individuals. Antimigraine treatment can be considered in this specific group of staccato tinnitus. Audiogenic classification of tinnitus may provide diagnostic and treatment clues in tinnitus patients.


Auditory; Clocking tinnitus; Flunarizine; Migraine; Tinnitus; Topiramate

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