Association between sudden sensorineural hearing loss and anxiety disorder: a population-based study

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2015 Oct;272(10):2673-8. doi: 10.1007/s00405-014-3235-8. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


Anxiety disorder (AD) is commonly associated with a number of physical illnesses. No previous study has investigated the association between AD and sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). In this study, we investigated the association between prior AD and SSNHL using a population-based dataset in Taiwan. Sampled subjects of this case-control study were retrieved from the Taiwan "Longitudinal Health Insurance Database". We identified 3,522 patients who had a diagnosis of SSNHL as cases and 10,566 age- and gender-matched subjects without SSNHL as controls. A conditional logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratio (OR) for having previously been diagnosed with AD between cases and controls. We found that of 14,088 patients, 13.4% had a prior AD diagnosis, 17.8 and 11.9% for the SSNHL group and controls, respectively. After adjusting for patient socioeconomic characteristics and comorbid medical disorders, SSNHL patients were more likely to have prior AD than the controls (OR 1.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.34-1.66, p < 0.001). Furthermore, we found that the significant relationship between SSNHL and prior AD decreased with age. The relationship was the most pronounced among those aged ≤44 years, with an adjusted OR of 1.86 (95% CI 1.48-2.33, p < 0.001) for cases compared to controls. We concluded that patients with SSNHL had a higher proportion of prior AD than non-SSNHL-diagnosed controls. Further study is needed to confirm our findings and explore the underlying pathomechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / complications*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / complications*
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology