UC Irvine Health otolaryngologist Dr. Harrison Lin hopes the analysis calls attention to this common health problem.

Study identifies rates, severity of tinnitus in U.S.

Almost one in 10 adults in the U.S. have tinnitus, and noise exposure during occupational and leisure time is a likely risk factor, according to a study published online by JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery. UC Irvine Health otolaryngologist Dr. Harrison Lin and colleagues analyzed the representative 2007 National Health Interview Survey and found that among an estimated 222.1 million U.S. adults, 21.4 million (9.6 percent) had experienced tinnitus in the past 12 months. Of those, 27 percent reported symptoms lasting longer than 15 years, and 36 percent had nearly constant symptoms. Higher rates of tinnitus occurred in people with consistent exposure to loud noises at work and during recreational time. In terms of severity, 7.2 percent reported their tinnitus as a big or very big problem, compared with 42 percent who reported it as a small problem. Only 49 percent had discussed their tinnitus with a physician. Lin believes these results call attention to this common health concern and should lead to a large epidemiologic study of tinnitus and its management patterns in the U.S. adult population. “And with newly published practice guidelines, otolaryngologists may play a greater role in addressing this issue,” he said, “not only by treating their patients accordingly, but also in educating other physicians and healthcare professionals.”

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