To examine whether cause, severity, and frequency of traumatic brain injury (TBI) increase risk of postdeployment tinnitus when accounting for comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder.
Self-report and clinical assessments were done before and after an “index” deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Setting, Participants, and Measures:
Assessments took place on Marine Corps bases in southern California and the VA San Diego Medical Center. Participants were 1647 active-duty enlisted Marine and Navy servicemen who completed pre- and postdeployment assessments of the Marine Resiliency Study. The main outcome was the presence of tinnitus at 3 months postdeployment.
Predeployment TBI increased the likelihood of new-onset postdeployment tinnitus (odds ratio [OR] = 1.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-2.70). Deployment-related TBIs increased the likelihood of postdeployment tinnitus (OR = 2.65; 95% CI, 1.19-5.89). Likelihood of new-onset postdeployment tinnitus was highest for those who were blast-exposed (OR = 2.93; 95% CI, 1.82-6.17), who reported moderate-severe TBI symptoms (OR = 2.22; 95% CI, 1.22-3.40), and who sustained multiple TBIs across study visits (OR = 2.27; 95% CI, 1.44-4.24). Posttraumatic stress disorder had no effect on tinnitus outcome.
Participants who were blast-exposed, sustained multiple TBIs, and reported moderate-severe TBI symptoms were most at risk for new-onset tinnitus.