The prevalence and characteristics of tinnitus in the youth population of the United States

Authors

  • Hossein Mahboubi MD, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    • Division of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California–Irvine, California, U.S.A
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  • Sepehr Oliaei MD,

    1. Division of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California–Irvine, California, U.S.A
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  • Saman Kiumehr MD,

    1. Division of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California–Irvine, California, U.S.A
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  • Sami Dwabe,

    1. Division of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California–Irvine, California, U.S.A
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  • Hamid R. Djalilian MD

    1. Division of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California–Irvine, California, U.S.A
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  • Presented at the 115th Triological Society Annual Meeting at the COSM, San Diego, CA, April 20–21, 2012.

  • This study was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award 1T32DC010775-01 from the University of California–Irvine to Saman Kiumehr, MD. The funding organizations had no role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the article. The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Send correspondence to Hossein Mahboubi, MD, MPH, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, Irvine, 101 The City Drive South, Bldg. 56, Suite 500, Orange, CA 92868. E-mail: hmahboub@uci.edu

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis

To evaluate the prevalence, characteristics, and associated risk factors of tinnitus in U.S. adolescents.

Study Design

Cross-sectional analyses of U.S. representative demographic and audiometric data, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005 to 2008.

Methods

The study population consisted of 3,520 individuals aged 12 to 19 years with complete tinnitus-related data. Tinnitus was defined as the presence of ringing or buzzing in the ears lasting for at least 5 minutes during the preceding 12 months. In addition, we defined a chronic tinnitus subgroup as being bothered by tinnitus for more than 3 months. Demographic and other data regarding tinnitus, smoking, body mass index (BMI), anemia, hypertension, history of ear infections, tympanostomy tube placement, otoscopy, tympanometry and hearing thresholds, history of firearm use, and recreational and occupational exposure to noise were extracted and analyzed.

Results

Overall, tinnitus lasting 5 minutes or more in the preceding 12 months was reported by 7.5% of the 12- to 19-year-old population. This represents about 2.5 million adolescents in the United States. The prevalence of chronic tinnitus was 4.7%, corresponding to about 1.6 million adolescents in the United States. Multivariable-adjusted analysis revealed that both overall and chronic tinnitus were associated with female gender, low income, exposure to passive smoking, type A tympanogram, and occupational and recreational noise exposure. History of ≥3 ear infections and history of tympanostomy tube placement were associated only with overall tinnitus.

Conclusions

Tinnitus afflicts a substantial portion of the youth population. Further investigation of the association between tinnitus and the identified risk factors is warranted.

Level of Evidence

N/A. Laryngoscope, 123:2001–2008, 2013

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