Tinnitus in the elderly is prevalent and impacts quality of life

Oct 07, 2010

Tinnitus is common among elderly Nigerians and associated with treatable health conditions like otitis media, rhinosinusitis, head injury and hypertension, according to new research published in the October 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

Nearly 36 million Americans, however, suffer from or head noises. It may be an intermittent sound or an annoying continuous sound in one or both ears. In Nigeria, tinnitus affects between 10.1% and 33% of the population, with about 3 to 4% consulting a doctor on at least one occasion in their lifetime. Its effect makes it a significant contributor to morbidity in the elderly.

The study included face-to-face interviews of 1,302 elderly people aged 65 years and over; age, sex, economic status or residence were not associated with the occurrence of tinnitus. The researchers found a significant difference between the prevalence of tinnitus among "young elderly" subjects aged 65-69 (6.5%), and the older (80+ years) group (41.9 %). Also in this study, a non-significant trend was observed for the prevalence of tinnitus to increase with decreasing socioeconomic and educational level.

"Our results are of potential value in the overall consideration of the health consequence of aging in this setting, especially given the projections of a rapid increase in the proportion of the elderly in developing countries," said study author Akeem Olawale Lasisi, MBChB, FWACS, FMCORL.

In spite of its public health significance, tinnitus among the elderly has received poor research attention in Sub-Saharan Africa where, with relatively poor access to health service, etiologically important medical conditions that would otherwise be readily treated could become chronic and increase vulnerability to tinnitus. In this study, the authors focused on subjective tinnitus; in selecting risk factors to study, they speculated that the presence of chronic recurrent rhinosinusitis may lead to eustachian tube dysfunction, hence middle ear pressure dysregulation and tinnitus. In addition, chronic medical conditions predisposing to arteriosclerosis have been considered as correlates because when untreated or complicated (as often found in this area), they might lead to hypoperfusion of the cochlear and dysregulation of inner ear fluid dynamics, which could then cause tinnitus. Furthermore, control of these risk factors may help in ameliorating tinnitus and improving quality of life, which would be a significant benefit to the majority of the elderly.

Explore further: Global Ebola toll rises to 5,689: WHO

Provided by American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Low heritability of tinnitus

Apr 20, 2010

The relative importance of genetic factors in tinnitus is low, according to new research from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This is the first large population-based study to measure the heritability of tinnitus.

Silence may lead to phantom noises misinterpreted as tinnitus

Jan 01, 2008

Phantom noises, that mimic ringing in the ears associated with tinnitus, can be experienced by people with normal hearing in quiet situations, according to new research published in the January 2008 edition of Otolaryngology ...

Prolonged mobile phone use may be linked to tinnitus

Jul 19, 2010

Regularly using a mobile phone for at least four years seems to be associated with a doubling in the risk of developing chronic tinnitus (persistent ringing/roaring/hissing in the ear), indicates a small study published online ...

Zebrafish may help solve ringing in vets' ears

Apr 30, 2008

Ernest Moore, an audiologist and cell biologist at Northwestern University, developed tinnitus -- a chronic ringing and whooshing sound in his ears -- twenty years ago after serving in the U.S. Army reserves medical corps. ...

Recommended for you

Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

29 minutes ago

Eight months into West Africa's Ebola outbreak, aid efforts in Guinea still suffer from poor coordination, hampering deployments of international support to help quell a virus that has killed more than 1,200 ...

Long wait yet for Ebola vaccine: experts

5 hours ago

It will be months, at least, before a vaccine becomes available to tackle Ebola, experts said Thursday as researchers reported success in early, safety tests with a leading candidate.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.