Tinnitus or subjective hearing loss, or both, were reported by 61 of 134 (45%) patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) taking regular salicylates and by 73 of 182 (40%) untreated healthy subjects. In the patients with RA mean salicylate levels were not higher in those with tinnitus than in those without tinnitus, but levels were significantly higher in those with subjective hearing loss than in those with no symptoms. Twenty five per cent of the patients with RA had tinnitus or subjective hearing loss with salicylate levels less than 1.42 mmol/l. Audiometric responses in 31 patients correlated poorly with symptoms. Tinnitus and subjective hearing loss may be too non-specific to be reliable as tools for adjusting the salicylate level into the therapeutic range.
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