Prevalence of leisure noise-induced tinnitus and the attitude toward noise in university students

Otol Neurotol. 2012 Aug;33(6):899-906. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e31825d640a.


Background: Adolescents and young adults often are exposed to potentially damaging loud music during leisure activities. As a consequence, more and more young adults suffer from tinnitus, hearing loss, and hyperacusis. The present study provides prevalence numbers for noise-induced tinnitus (NIT) in this group, the attitude toward loud music, and the factors influencing the use of hearing protection (HP).

Method: A questionnaire was undertaken to evaluate the influence of permanent/transient tinnitus after loud music, the attitudes toward noise, influence of peers, and the ability to manipulate HP on the use of HP. The questionnaire was completed by 145 university students.

Results: Approximately 89.5% of the students had experienced transient tinnitus after loud music exposure. The prevalence of transient NIT was higher in female subjects compared with male students. Permanent NIT was experienced by 14.8%. Nevertheless, few respondents were worried, and the degree of HP use was low (11%). However, the presence of permanent tinnitus was a motivation for HP use. Most respondents held a neutral to positive attitude (i.e., pronoise) toward loud music and were not fully aware of the risks of too much noise exposure.

Conclusion: NIT is a common phenomenon among young adults. The lack of knowledge in young adults and the underuse of HP in leisure activities provide useful information to refine preventive measures in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Music
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Sex Factors
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology*
  • Tinnitus / etiology*
  • Young Adult