Loud Noises at Work and Home Lead To High Prevalence of Tinnitus

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Harrison W. Lin, M.D. Assistant Professor Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery UC Irvine Medical Center Orange, CA 92868

Dr. Harrison LIn

Harrison W. Lin, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
UC Irvine Medical Center
Orange, CA 92868

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We reviewed the data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, which is a project funded by the National Institutes of Health to supplement the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a household-based, personal interview survey administered by the US Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1957. The NHIS serves as the largest source of health information in the civilian population of the United States.

Analyzing the available data on tinnitus symptoms from this survey, we found that approximately 1 in 10 Americans have chronic tinnitus. Moreover, durations of occupational and leisure time noise exposures correlated with rates of tinnitus – people who reported higher rates of loud noise exposures at work and recreationally more frequently reported chronic tinnitus.

Finally, health care providers provided advice and treatment plans to patients with chronic tinnitus that were infrequently in line with the clinical practice guidelines published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Foundation.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There are at least two messages readers can take away from this study.

First, higher rates of tinnitus were reported among people who have loud environments at work or frequently engage in recreational activities that involve loud sounds. Accordingly, there are likely correctable risk factors for tinnitus – namely noisy activities – that can be addressed in the work place and at home.

Secondly, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Foundation reviewed dozens of studies on the evaluation and treatment for tinnitus, and in 2014, released a set of “clinical practice guidelines” as a roadmap for tinnitus care.

In our study, we found that patients were more frequently given advice and management plans that were not in line with the Academy recommendations. Consequently there is considerable room for improvement in the care provided by health care professionals for patients with chronic, bothersome tinnitus.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Because the frequency and extent of noise exposures at work and at home seem to correlate with the prevalence of chronic tinnitus, these noise exposures should be addressed and minimized, and such measures may play a role in reducing the incidence of chronic tinnitus.

In addition, health care providers can improve their evaluation and treatment algorithms for patients with chronic tinnitus by recommending audiological evaluations, sound and hearing aid therapies, and psychological interventions, among other modalities.

Additional research can be directed at further examining the impact of the work-related and recreational noise reduction on tinnitus prevalence and determining if tinnitus management patterns provided by health care professionals fall more in line with the Academy recommendations over time.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Jay M. Bhatt, Harrison W. Lin, Neil Bhattacharyya.
Prevalence, Severity, Exposures, and Treatment Patterns of Tinnitus in the United States. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 2016;

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on July 22, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD