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Analysis of the Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Tinnitus in a Young Population

Park, Bumjung*; Choi, Hyo Geun*; Lee, Hyo-Jeong*; An, Soo-Youn; Kim, Si Whan*; Lee, Joong Seob*; Hong, Sung Kwang*; Kim, Hyung-Jong*

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000472
Pediatric Otology

Background 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.

Methods 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.

Results 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.

Conclusion We believe that understanding the influences of these factors will help in preventing tinnitus.

*Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang; and †Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Thyroid/Head & Neck Cancer Center of the Dongnam Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Busan, Korea

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hyo Geun Choi, M.D., Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Pyong Chon Dong, Dong Ahn Ku, Anyang, Kyonggi Province, 431-796, Korea; E-mail:

This study was supported by a research grant funded by Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital (HURF-2013-15).

Copyright © 2014 by Otology & Neurotology, Inc. Image copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health/Anatomical Chart Company