Tinnitus in children and adolescents is known to be as common as in adults. However, tinnitus in this young population is often overlooked, and a large population-based study designed to adjust for various risk factors for tinnitus is lacking.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, with 3047 participants aged 12 to 19 years, from 2008 through 2011. We investigated the tinnitus prevalence by questionnaire and analyzed risk factors for tinnitus of three types: personal, otologic, and parental factors.
The prevalence of tinnitus in the young population was 17.7%, although only 0.3% of subjects reported severe discomfort caused by tinnitus. The tinnitus prevalence increased with age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.087). Female gender (AOR, 1.401), sleeping less than 9 hours (sleep 7 or 8 h: AOR, 1.437; sleep 6 h or less: AOR, 1.737), noise exposure in other places (AOR, 6.395), and momentary noise exposure (AOR, 5.504) increased the risk of tinnitus. Participants whose mother had a history of tinnitus showed higher AORs. However, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, stress, monthly household income, having an abnormal tympanic membrane, unilateral or bilateral hearing loss, noise exposure caused by earphone, and noise exposure in the workplace, all reported risk factors for tinnitus, showed no statistically significant difference. A tinnitus history in the father was also not associated with tinnitus in children.
We believe that understanding the influences of these factors will help in preventing tinnitus.