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JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Oct 1;142(10):959-965. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2016.1700.

Prevalence, Severity, Exposures, and Treatment Patterns of Tinnitus in the United States.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, Irvine.
2
Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Abstract

Importance:

Tinnitus is a common problem for millions of individuals and can cause substantial negative effects on their quality of life. A large epidemiologic study of tinnitus and its management patterns in the US adult population is lacking.

Objectives:

To quantify the epidemiologic features and effect of tinnitus and to analyze the management of tinnitus in the United States relative to the 2014 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) clinical practice guidelines.

Design, Methods, and Participants:

This cross-sectional analysis of the representative 2007 National Health Interview Survey (raw data, 75 764 respondents) identified a weighted national sample of adults (age, ≥18 years) who reported tinnitus in the preceding 12 months. Data were collected in November 2014 at the University of California, Irvine, and Harvard Medical School.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

In addition to quantifying prevalence, severity, duration, and regularity of tinnitus, specific data regarding noise exposure and tinnitus management patterns during health care visits were analyzed.

Results:

Among an estimated (SE) 222.1 (3.4) million US adults, 21.4 (3.4) million (9.6% [0.3%]) experienced tinnitus in the past 12 months. Among those who reported tinnitus, 27% had symptoms for longer than 15 years, and 36% had nearly constant symptoms. Higher rates of tinnitus were reported in those with consistent exposure to loud noises at work (odds ratio, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.9-3.7) and during recreational time (odds ratio, 2.6; 95% CI, 2.3-2.9). Years of work-related noise exposure correlated with increasing prevalence of tinnitus (r = 0.13; 95% CI, 0.10-0.16). In terms of subjective severity, 7.2% reported their tinnitus as a big or a very big problem compared with 41.6% who reported it as a small problem. Only 49.4% had discussed their tinnitus with a physician, and medications were the most frequently discussed recommendation (45.4%). Other interventions, such as hearing aids (9.2%), wearable (2.6%) and nonwearable (2.3%) masking devices, and cognitive behavioral therapy (0.2%), were less frequently discussed.

Conclusions and Relevance:

The prevalence of tinnitus in the United States is approximately 1 in 10 adults. Durations of occupational and leisure time noise exposures correlated with rates of tinnitus and are likely targetable risk factors. Management options suggested by the recently published AAO-HNSF guidelines were followed infrequently.

PMID:
27441392
PMCID:
PMC5812683
DOI:
10.1001/jamaoto.2016.1700
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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