Chronic tinnitus affects between 15 percent to 30 percent of the adult population, including around 1 percent to 5 percent who are severely affected (Gopinath, McMahon, Rochtchina, Karpa & Mitchell, 2010). Many tinnitus patients describe the symptoms as transient ear noises, in association with sudden hearing loss. It has been reported that potential risk factors in the development of tinnitus include hearing loss, history of head injury, greater serum cholesterol, and a history of otosclerosis (abnormal growth of bone near the middle ear). In a recent study, researchers from The University of Sydney, used a representative older population based chort to establish the predictors and impacts of tinnitus (Gopinath, McMahon, Rochtchina, Karpa & Mitchell, 2010). In this study it was found that the factors significantly associated with tinnitus included poor hearing, self-related noise exposure, history of middle ear or sinus infections, severe neck injury, and migraine. Hearing impaired participants had a 2 fold increased risk of incident tinnitus, and this risk increased with increasing severity of the hearing impairment. Moreover, self-reported symptomatic dizziness was another prognostic factor for incident tinnitus, potentially due to damage to the balance organ within the vestibular labyrinth (inner ear).
Gopinath, B., McMahon, C., Rochtchina, E., Karpa, M.J. & Mitchell, P. 2010. Risk factors and impacts of incident tinnitus in older adults. Annals of Epidemiology, 20, 2, 129-135.