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J Epidemiol. 2014;24(5):417-26. Epub 2014 Jun 21.

Prevalence and associated factors of tinnitus: data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2011.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine.



Tinnitus is a common condition and frequently can be annoying to affected individuals. We investigated the prevalence and associated factors for tinnitus in South Korea using the data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES) during 2009-2011.


KNHANES is a cross-sectional survey of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of South Korea (n = 21 893). A field survey team that included an otolaryngologist moved with a mobile examination unit and performed interviews and physical examinations.


Among the population over 12 years of age, the prevalence of any tinnitus was 19.7% (95% CI 18.8%-20.6%). Tinnitus was more prevalent in women, and the prevalence rate increased with age (P < 0.001). Among those with any tinnitus, 29.3% (95% CI 27.3%-31.3%) experienced annoying tinnitus that affected daily life. Annoying tinnitus also increased with age (P < 0.001), but no sex difference was demonstrated (P = 0.25). In participants aged 40 years or older, age, quality of life, depressive mood, hearing loss, feeling of dizziness, and rhinitis were associated with any tinnitus (P < 0.05). Age, hearing loss, history of cardiovascular disease, and stress were associated with annoying tinnitus (P < 0.05).


Tinnitus is a common condition, and a large population suffers from annoying tinnitus in South Korea. Public understanding of associated factors might contribute to better management of tinnitus.

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