Objective: The aim of this study was to assess zinc levels in tinnitus patients, and to evaluate the effects of zinc deficiency on tinnitus and hearing loss.
Methods: One-hundred patients, who presented to an outpatient clinic with tinnitus between June 2009 and 2014, were included in the study. Patients were divided into three groups according to age: Group I (patients between 18 and 30years of age); Group II (patients between 31 and 60years of age); and Group III (patients between 61 and 78years of age). Following a complete ear, nose and throat examination, serum zinc levels were measured and the severity of tinnitus was quantified using the Tinnitus Severity Index Questionnaire (TSIQ). Patients were subsequently asked to provide a subjective judgment regarding the loudness of their tinnitus. The hearing status of patients was evaluated by audiometry and high-frequency audiometry. An average hearing sensitivity was calculated as the mean value of hearing thresholds between 250 and 20,000Hz. Serum zinc levels between 70 and 120μg/dl were considered normal. The severity and loudness of tinnitus, and the hearing thresholds of the normal zinc level and zinc-deficient groups, were compared.
Results: Twelve of 100 (12%) patients exhibited low zinc levels. The mean age of the zinc-deficient group was 65.41±12.77years. Serum zinc levels were significantly lower in group III (p<0.01). The severity and loudness of tinnitus were greater in zinc-deficient patients (p=0.011 and p=0.015, respectively). Moreover, the mean thresholds of air conduction were significantly higher in zinc-deficient patients (p=0.000).
Conclusion: We observed that zinc levels decrease as age increases. In addition, there was a significant correlation between zinc level and the severity and loudness of tinnitus. Zinc deficiency was also associated with impairments in hearing thresholds.
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