Analysis of the Prevalence and Associated Risk Factors of Tinnitus in Adults

Sitting with my ears ringing at near-maximum for me, this paper was a must-read...

Analysis of the Prevalence and Associated Risk Factors of Tinnitus in Adults

Hyung-Jong Kim,

Hyo-Jeong Lee,

Soo-Youn An,

Songyong Sim,

Bumjung Park,

Si Whan Kim,

Joong Seob Lee,

Sung Kwang Hong,

Hyo Geun Choi


Published: May 28, 2015

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127578



Tinnitus is a common condition in adults; however, the pathophysiology of tinnitus remains unclear, and no large population-based study has assessed the associated risk factors. The aim of this study was to analyze the prevalence and associated risk factors of tinnitus.


We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, with 19,290 participants ranging in age from 20 to 98 years old, between 2009 and 2012. We investigated the prevalence of tinnitus using a questionnaire and analyzed various possible factors associated with tinnitus using simple and multiple logistic regression analysis with complex sampling.


The prevalence of tinnitus was 20.7%, and the rates of tinnitus associated with no discomfort, moderate annoyance, and severe annoyance were 69.2%, 27.9%, and 3.0%, respectively. The prevalence of tinnitus and the rates of annoying tinnitus increased with age. The adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of tinnitus was higher for females, those with a smoking history, those reporting less sleep (≤ 6 h), those with more stress, those in smaller households, those with a history of hyperlipidemia osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression, thyroid disease, an abnormal tympanic membrane, unilateral hearing loss, bilateral hearing loss, noise exposure from earphones, noise exposure at the workplace, noise exposure outside the workplace, and brief noise exposure. Additionally, unemployed individuals and soldiers had higher AORs for tinnitus. The AOR of annoying tinnitus increased with age, stress, history of hyperlipidemia, unilateral hearing loss, and bilateral hearing loss.


Tinnitus is very common in the general population and is associated with gender, smoking, stress, sleep, hearing loss, hyperlipidemia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression, and thyroid disease history.

Above extract is taken from full paper freely available at:

20 Replies

  • Strangely, I'd never experienced tinnitus until I started on NDT (Nature-Throid) last year. I've had setbacks in my progress, due to a lot of stress, and am not yet optimally medicated, so I hope the tinnitus willl eventually disappear!

  • Interesting! I am in no doubt that my tinnitus is directly related to my thyroid disease. Could be interesting to do a poll here to find out how many others think they have thyroid related tinnitus.

  • ...also linked to Low B12 I believe.....

  • Thankfully not my problem, but yes :)

  • Thanks that is very interesting I have the arthritis (since I was 23) plus the hypothyroidism and tinnitus since I was a teenager. My ears are on what I call a TV inside my head mode right now! Like a constant white noise at a single frequency.

  • "Tinnitus is very common in the general population and is associated with gender, smoking, stress, sleep, hearing loss, hyperlipidemia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression, and thyroid disease history."

    From that list of 11 things associated with tinnitus, I have (or have had) 8 of them.

  • Got 6! Think a poll would be interesting

  • Take your pick from that long list of causes. It all just means they don't really know!

  • They don't mention tinnitus caused by trigger points in muscles around the jaw and neck or other muscular causes. Mine began after I lifted a too-heavy shopping basket last year. A google search for "Tinnitus trigger points" bring up pages and pages about this:

  • Thanks for posting ,i have tinnitus although i cope in the day its in the night when you can't sleep because of it is the worse .I know some people have it bad during the day as well .I bet there are not many GPS that would connect Tinnitus to thyroid disease.

  • I find that speech radio is helpful. Though I know that each of us finds some things unbearable that others find helpful.

    Also, thought I'd note, I have had tinnitus for a very long time, from about age 8. It seems to have worsened since thyroid, but it is always going to be difficult to be sure.

  • I get it when the liothyronine dose is too high. AND if I have a sounds. Now get it occasionally like today. I think it's from glucose fluctations in my case. If I keep the blood glucose steady and don't eat unapposed carbs, there's no tinnitus.

  • My mam had it and they gave her tapes to listen to through a walkman she said it helped a gave her problems with balance and she used to feel dizzy quite alot.

    I cannot imagine how it must fell to have had it for many years,as it does my head in sometimes and i have only had it for but a few.

  • I never knew that rheumatoid arthritis can cause tinnitus. I have had this for a long time. I was only diagnosed with RA 6 years ago but have had joint problems since my 30s which the docs said was osteoarthritis it makes me wonder if it's always been RA!

  • Be careful! The paper is quite careful to avoid saying that RA (or the other factors) are proven causes - more that they are significant associations. I can't see how tinnitus could cause RA, but I can imagine that some other factor causes both RA and tinnitus.

  • OK, it was just a comment rather than anything else. I am just amazed how things can cause so many other things and how a lot of my health problems now obviously started a very long time ago, but I just didn't realise that until reading things on these forums. I have learnt such a lot and am very grateful for being able to join in with things. In fact my renal specialist that I saw due to having high blood pressure one day said I should have been a doctor as I had so much knowledge and that is purely due to forums like on here.

  • I get this very mildly in one ear - my right. It sings in, reaches a little crescendo then fades out again. I mentioned it to my doc; not interested as usual. I sometimes wonder what WOULD interest him.

  • I have a constant tone in both ears since I've started to get medicated correctly, fortunately I only notice it if I think about it or if it is very quiet. I try and follow the advice on, essentially just try and ignore it as much as possible!

  • Some advice is so very much easier to read than to follow. :-(

    I find some days the level seems to ramp up over hours. Once it hits a certain level of attention-grabbing, I then find it almost impossible to ignore for the rest of the day.

  • After joining this forum , and googling the connection between taking meds & tinnitus I am in no doubt that they are connected. I only have the thyroid issue which was only found because I was having blood tests for what they thought was cancer . I truly wish I had said no to taking Levothyroxine , I feel let down as no one told me the risk involved. Someone I knew was diagnosed with thyroid but refused to take meds as she was scared of gaining weight and she is fine. That was at least five years ago.

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