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PLoS One. 2015 May 28;10(5):e0127578. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127578. eCollection 2015.

Analysis of the prevalence and associated risk factors of tinnitus in adults.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang, Korea.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Thyroid/Head & Neck Cancer Center of the Dongnam Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences (DIRAMS), Busan, Korea.
Department of Statistics, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea.



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.

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