Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate factors of importance for the experience of temporary threshold shift (TTS), noise- induced tinnitus (NIT), spontaneous tinnitus (ST) in school children.
Subjects and methods: A total of 671 students aged 13-16 years old were asked to fill in a questionnaire containing items concerning TTS, NIT, ST, hearing loss (HL), heredity for HL, noise exposure, history of otitis media, symptoms of anxiety and depression, psychosocial factors and habits, life satisfaction, chronic medical conditions, age, gender and height. The questionnaire was filled in during school hours.
Results: Correlations were found with exercise and eating habits, sleep disturbances, BMI, depressive and anxiety disorders, heredity for HL and noise exposure dosage. The risk for TTS was nine times higher in students who reported having a verified hearing loss than in subjects without subjective or verified complaints of hearing loss. The risk for NIT was approximately four times higher in the group who visited concerts 6-12 times per year as compared to those who never attended concerts. There was almost a threefold increase in the risk for ST in the group that sometimes experienced TTS, as compared to those without TTS, and a tenfold increase in risk for ST in those who reported having a verified hearing loss.
Conclusion: In school children, exposure to leisure noise is correlated with tinnitus and the risk increases with increasing noise exposure. Sensitivity to subjective hearing loss has similar risk factors as seen for metabolic syndrome and we suggest that this sensitivity may be another side of metabolic syndrome.