Prevalence of Tinnitus in an Aging Population and Its Relation to Age and Hearing Loss

Berthe C. Oosterloo*, Pauline H. Croll, Robert J.Baatenburg de Jong, M. Kamran Ikram, André Goedegebure

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Tinnitus is a common hearing-related disorder, which may have a large impact on daily life. With aging populations worldwide, it is important to gain insight in the occurrence of tinnitus at older ages and to understand its relationship with age-related hearing loss. We investigated the prevalence of tinnitus among a general aging population, across age strata and hearing status. Study Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: The population-based Rotterdam Study. Methods: A total of 6098 participants underwent tinnitus assessment, and 4805 had additional hearing assessment. We determined tinnitus prevalence per 5-year age groups. Hearing impairment was defined as ≥25–dB HL worse ear pure tone average (0.5, 1, 2, 4 kHz). We investigated with multivariable logistic regression the association between hearing impairment and tinnitus. Tinnitus handicap was assessed in 663 participants with daily tinnitus via the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory–screening version (THI-s). Results: Tinnitus was prevalent in 21.4% (n = 1304). Prevalent tinnitus was evenly distributed over 5-year age groups. Participants with hearing impairment were more likely to have tinnitus (odds ratio, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.92-2.69) as compared with those without hearing impairment. The median THI-s score was 4 (interquartile range, 0-10), indicating a slight handicap, and 14.6% of the participants reported a moderate or severe handicap (THI-s ≥16). Conclusions: In a general elderly population, 1 in 5 persons has tinnitus. Of those with tinnitus, for 1 per 10 persons, the presence of tinnitus interfered with daily life. Participants with hearing impairment were twice as likely to have tinnitus. Despite the age-dependent occurrence of hearing impairment, no such age dependency was found for tinnitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-868
Number of pages10
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding source: This project is partially funded by Heinsius Houbolt. The funder was not involved in the project design,
data analysis, data interpretation, or the draft of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2020.


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