Back to Journals » Clinical Epidemiology » Volume 11

A study on the epidemiology of tinnitus in the United Kingdom

Authors Stohler NA, Reinau D, Jick SS, Bodmer D, Meier CR

Received 24 April 2019

Accepted for publication 10 July 2019

Published 13 September 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 855—871


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Nadja A Stohler,1,2 Daphne Reinau,1,2 Susan S Jick,3,4 Daniel Bodmer,5 Christoph R Meier1–3

1Basel Pharmacoepidemiology Unit, Division of Clinical Pharmacy and Epidemiology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; 2Hospital Pharmacy, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland; 3Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, Lexington, MA, USA; 4Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; 5Department of Biomedicine and Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Correspondence: Christoph R Meier
Basel Pharmacoepidemiology Unit, Hospital Pharmacy, University Hospital Basel, Spitalstrasse 26, Basel 4031, Switzerland
Tel +41 61 556 5369
Fax +41 61 265 8875

Purpose: Subjective tinnitus is a common symptom with potentially negative impact on quality of life. More research is required to gain a deeper understanding of the disease and its clinical presentation. To estimate the incidence of tinnitus and to describe patient-related characteristics such as lifestyle factors and comorbidities.
Patients and methods: Using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, we calculated incidence rates of first-time diagnosed tinnitus in an adult population between 2000 and 2016. We stratified incidence rates by sex, age, and year of diagnosis. Additionally, we performed a 1:1 matched case-control study comparing body mass index, lifestyle factors and selected comorbidities between patients with incident tinnitus and tinnitus-free controls.
Results: We identified 109 783 adults with a first-time diagnosis of tinnitus between 2000 and 2016, yielding an overall age-standardized incidence rate of 25.0 new tinnitus cases per 10,000 person-years (95% CI: 24.6–25.5). There was a steady increase in tinnitus incidence throughout the study period. Approximately 80% of tinnitus cases were diagnosed at age 40 years or older. We observed the highest incidence rate in individuals aged 60–69 years (41.2 per 10,000 person-years, 95% CI: 40.7–41.7). Smokers and alcohol drinkers were at lower risk of being diagnosed with tinnitus compared with non-smokers and non-drinkers, respectively. The occurrence of tinnitus was strongly associated with a recent diagnosis of several otological and vestibular disorders as well as head and neck disorders.
Conclusion: The present observational study found an increasing incidence of tinnitus over time, emphasizing the continuously growing health burden. The findings on patient characteristics, lifestyle factors, and selected comorbidities contribute to a better understanding of risk factors for tinnitus.

Keywords: case-control study, clinical practice research datalink, lifestyle factors, incidence rates, tinnitus

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]